The “Stone men” are a group of people in Game of Thrones that suffer from a peculiar affliction. As you could probably guess, their skin becomes stone-like and eventually, they die a terrible death. The society deals with it by banishing them to their own part of the world, similar to how we dealt with leprosy back in the day.
This mystical affliction may not be so fictional at all, as it turns out. A group of siblings in poverty-stricken Pakistan recently came down with a rare disease similar to what afflicts the “stone men,” but this is all too real.
Habibullah Bhatti, Mehrunisa, Nasebullah Bhatti, and Kairunisa all suffer from an illness known as epidermolytic hyperkeratosis. This rare disease affects 1 in 200,000 people, but that unlucky person has to deal with a host of terrible symptoms.
The most obvious symptom is that a thick layer of skin grows over their hands and feet at a rapid pace. The four siblings have sought out the best medical help they can afford but no doctor has been able to successfully treat their illness.
The disease has made it impossible for them to wear shoes or interact with the world in any typical way. They have pain when they walk or pick up anything and it doesn’t go away until the pressure ceases.
“Three years ago, my youngest daughter, Khairunisa, got affected by a strange disease. A thick layer of skin grew on her feet which started getting tougher like stone in a few months,” said Nazir, the siblings’ father.
“We took her to a local faith healer who gave her some paste to apply on her feet. But within six months, three of my other children got affected by this condition.”
Strangely enough, the illness rarely presents itself in this sequential manner. Up until this point, doctors were convinced that the illness was present from birth.
The skin hardens into a thick shell, causing a ton of pain for the poor, suffering kids. As if their impoverished life in Pakistan wasn’t enough, now they have to deal with chronic pain and a lack of medical treatment.
Treatment even in the best case is a challenge. MEdications can remove the scaly, hardened skin but this leaves the patient with tender, fragile skin exposed. This can make walking just as hard as it is prior to treatment.
These children won’t be getting the best medical treatment because their father only brings home about $3 per day in pay from his role as a small-time chef. Few people in their village make much money, so medical treatment can be very hard to come by.
“With my pay, I can barely afford to feed my family. I don’t have the money to afford the travel expenses and take my children to any bigger hospital in Karachi or any other big city.”
Thankfully a benefactor heard about their plight and is now helping to send the children to a specialist in Karachi. Hopefully, they will be able to get some treatment for this horrific condition and start to live their lives once more!
What do you think about this painful condition? Share in the comments.