By Maureen Halpert
When looking at this picture, you might think the man in the photo is morbidly obese. But for Wesley Warren Jr. that was not the case. Warren (as he likes to be called) lives in Las Vegas, Nevada–and 5 years ago, his life changed when he accidently crushed his privates while waking up and getting out of bed. He didn’t think much about it until his scrotum started to swell.
Doctors prescribed antibiotics for the inflammation but instead of the swelling going down, the swelling increased eventually hitting 132.5 pounds. His diagnosis was scrotal lymphedema or elephantitis—the solution was reconstructive surgery, but he couldn’t afford the almost million dollar surgery.
Warren, a former Salesman, did what he could to raise money for his surgery appearing on social media sites and even on Howard Stern. And he was able to raise some money–$2,000. But when social security found out, he was forced to stop fundraising and temporary stopping his benefits… leaving him with nowhere to go.
With his testicles growing several pounds each month, he became incapacitated… He couldn’t walk or drive properly, and people stared at him everywhere he went. He couldn’t even wear pants and had to improvise by putting his legs through the arms of a gigantic hoodie before zipping the body of the sweatshirt up over his testicles and then tying the drawstrings beneath.
He felt like a freak, and became devastated and depressed because of his condition. And the stares and laughter didn’t help, “There are a lot of people that will look and laugh and stare in shock and awe and amazement and it’s tough to deal with.”
Plus you can imagine what it must have been like not being able to do what you’re used to do…like going to the supermarket or the post office, and having to carry a milk crate to be able to sit down or go to the bathroom. As Warren says, “It’s almost like being in prison. I don’t know how much longer I have to live with this testicle sac continuing to grow.”
When Dr. Joel Gelman in Southern California heard about Warren’s situation, he offered to do the expensive surgery for free. During the13 hour surgery, doctors removed 132.5 pounds of tissue, and then took skin from other parts of his Warren’s body to reconstruct his genitals leaving them without any physical or functional impairment.
Warren, now 49 and a bachelor, feels he has been through hell and back and is ecstatic about the future. He says he is thankful that he has been given his life back and thinks he will finally be happy if he can stumble upon love–-any kind of love!
It is estimated that 140 to 250 million people are affected by lymphedema worldwide. Lymphedema (elephantitis or elephantiasis) is categorized into three types:
• Primary lymphedema, which is the result of an anatomical abnormality of the lymph vessels and is a rare, inherited condition.
• Secondary lymphedema results from an identifiable damage to or obstruction of normally-functioning lymph vessels and nodes.
• Worldwide, lymphedema is commonly caused by filariasis (a parasite infection) as a mosquito bite and has appeared in such countries as Haiti and Africa.
In the U.S., lymphedema commonly occurs in women who have had breast cancer surgery, particularly when followed by radiation treatment. Lymphedema can also be caused from a sentinel node biopsy, which is used to determine if a cancer has spread. To further explain it, when a group of lymph nodes are removed, the flow of lymph fluid is blocked causing the lymph fluid to move slowly resulting in lymphedema and swelling.
More than likely, Warren’s scrotal lymphedema (elephantitis) was of the secondary lymphedema type. Warren’s surgery and story was recently documented on television.
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