Project Medishare | Getting back to a normal life
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Getting back to a normal life

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Nicholas George, 46, traveled to Hinche in hopes for a surgery that would remove his elephatiasis. George who has lived with his condition for 17 years was referred by Zanmi Lasante hospital in Cange. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

By Jennifer Browning

As he walked into the hospital there was something unusual people noticed about 46-year-old Nicholas George. Even clothed in long shorts, below the waste undeniably revealed a more than significant mass.

During the first day of clinic, Emory surgeons observed this severe case of elephantiasis, a condition George has carried with him for 17 years.

George said in the beginning he had an itching sensation in the groin area. Eventually his testicles began to grow. The growth continued a little each year until it reached its current weight. Thirty-five pounds.

With the weight, George said was not able to work.

“My 17-year-old son has been helping me, since it is difficult for me to do work,” he said.

According to general surgeon Dr. Jana MacLeod the operation is a difficult one due to the careful pre-operative planning and the time it takes to remove such a mass. George’s operation took most of the day lasting six and a half hours and required two surgeons, two medical students to assist, a scrub nurse, a circulation nurse and an anesthetist.

With the mass being removed, George’s quality of life will improve according to Dr. Viraj Master.

“He will be able to lead a more normal life by being able to work and walk easily and without pain,” Dr. Master said. “Almost as important, the stigma [of the obvious mass] will be removed.”

George said he wasn’t worried about the risk of surgery because he puts his faith in God.

“I feel blessed to be able to have this opportunity,” he said, “to be able to live, work…  provide for my family again.”