Photo of Doctor Anthony Gaspari with Dede Koswara, known as the "Treeman"
Dr. Gaspari with Dede Koswara

Dr. Anthony Gaspari, the chief of dermatology at the University of Maryland Medical Center, is credited with having diagnosed a 37-year-old Indonesian man named Dede Koswara - dubbed the "Treeman" because of the astonishing root-like growths on his hands and feet, with a type of wart. Dr. Gaspari talks about his experience with Dede, his condition, how to help and much more in the following interview.

Dr. Gaspari successfully diagnosed Dede Koswara, known as the Treeman for the root-like growths on his hands and feet.

Was Dede's condition the most unusual or severe you've ever faced?

Dede's case has been the most unusual and severe case that I have seen in my entire career.

What caused Dede's condition to become so extreme?

There are three main reasons for his severe condition:

  • First, a very rare and severe immunodeficiency disease (genetic flaw in the immune system that protects you from infections).
  • Second, a wart virus infection.
  • Third, allowing the wart virus infection to flourish for 20 years without being treated.

How common is this sort of wart growth?

The kinds of warts that Dede had (great size and number) are extremely rare; only a handful of cases like it worldwide.

Are the warts contagious?

Wart viruses (HPV) are contagious, but not as contagious as bacterial infections. Wart viruses are spread from person to person if there is a break in the skin, and exposure to infectious virus particles. Wart viruses cannot penetrate through intact, healthy skin.

Can Dede be cured?

It is unlikely that Dede will ever be completely cured of his wart virus infection. Our goals are to better control the infection, improve his appearance, and his ability to move his hands, and thus improve the quality of his life.

Is Dede coming to the U.S. to be treated?

We have not yet made plans to bring Dede to the United States, but this is under consideration.

Is there anything people can do to help Dede?

Our Department of Dermatology has established a foundation. For those who are interested in donating to the "Fund For Dede", please contact

Ms. Betsy Satosky
405 W. Redwood St., 6th floor
Baltimore, MD 21201
Telephone: 410-328-5767
E-mail: fsatosky@som.umaryland.edu

Donations are tax deductible, and will be forwarded to Dede.

Are there any skin conditions you won't or can't treat?

I treat almost all medical dermatology cases. I do not perform major skin surgery, nor do I perform cosmetic procedures. However, there are doctors in our practice that are experts in these areas. We can refer you to these doctors in our practice.

I have a skin condition I'd like Dr. Gaspari to treat. What should I do?

Please contact the Appointment Desk or the Practice Manager at 410-328-3167 to schedule an appointment.

I'm a doctor who has a patient I think Dr. Gaspari should treat. What should I do?

Call the Practice Manager at the above number, and send medical records and a referring letter to 419 W. Redwood St., Suite 160, Baltimore, MD 21201 

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