An Indian man suffering from a facial deformity lives in constant pain after giving up on ever having surgery to remove his 9lbs ‘trunk’.
Chana Lal, 35, cannot eat or talk properly because of the tumour which has grown from his face down to his chest.
Mr Lal, who lives in a remote village just outside Lucknow, in Uttar Pradesh, northern India, avoids mirrors and lives alone, supported by his two nieces.
Deformed: Chana Lal, 35, who lives in a remote village just outside Lucknow, in Uttar Pradesh, India, can’t eat or talk properly because of his large facial tumour
He suffers from severe neurofibromatosis, which has seen what was once a small facial deformity grow into a 9lbs ‘trunk’.
Mr Lal has attempted surgery in the past, most recently ten years ago, but nearly bled to death and doctors told him to never try it again if he wanted to live.
Mr Lal, the youngest of eight siblings, lives as a recluse, and gets through his day-to-day chores with the help of two of his nieces.
He said: ‘I have an ugly face; I don’t even like looking at myself in the mirror so I don’t expect anyone else to look at me either.
‘I would love to have surgery but I have lost all hope. I almost died last time I had surgery so I doubt anything can be done to this face.’
The elephant man: Mr Lal’s parents were offered money to display him during shows when he was a child, but they refused
Only family: Mr Lal lives as a recluse in the village, but is helped with his day to day activities by two of his nieces
Mr Lal was born with a very small blemish on his face at his home in the village where he still resides, but with his parents very poor, and no doctors or hospitals nearby, he did not see a medial professional until he was eight.
‘I knew there was something strange about my face when children would run away from me,’ he said.
‘I remember crying to my mother and she told me directly that I had a scary face. After that I never asked anyone to play with me again.’
That year, his late parents took him to a doctor, but the 15,000 Rupee (£148) fee for treatment was too expensive for the family and they went home.
Mr Lal’s parents were even offered money by a travelling circus to showcase him, but they refused.
He returned to the doctor at the age of 25 after his family finally raised enough money for surgery.
During surgery, doctors cut into a main blood vessel and Mr Lal started bleeding uncontrollably.
He says the doctors advised his parents if they wanted him to live he should never have another operation.
Constant pain: Mr Lal can no longer chew or talk properly and has lost the sight in his left eye and can’t hear through his left ear
No going back: What was once a small facial deformity has now grown into a 9lbs ‘trunk’
The tumour has now grown so large that Mr Lal has lost his eyesight in his left eye and hearing in his left ear.
‘I can’t even chew because my jaw has dropped and my teeth can’t do their job. I’d love to know what it’s like to bite into a juicy apple, he says.
Although he takes work as a labourer on building sites when he can, manual work is often painful.
‘I’m in agony. My head hurts when I have to carry heavy things but I don’t complain; the boss wouldn’t give me work if he heard me moan.’
Mr Lal lives alone but is looked after by his niece Suman Verma. She has tried to find her uncle a wife.
Ms Verman, 25, said: ‘I feel very sad for my uncle when I think of him alone.
‘I want him to have a normal life like all my other uncles. When I was younger I used to be scared of him but I’ve got used to his face now. He’s a softly spoken caring man; I’ve never seen him get angry.
‘We’re trying to find him a wife, but families turn away when they see his condition. I want a woman to love my uncle for who he is.’
Trying hard: Although he picks up work when he can, Mr Lal says it is painful to work with the tumour
No hope: Mr Lal’s family managed to raise money for him to have surgery ten years ago, but after doctors failed to stem bleeding during the operation, they told his parents he could never be helped
The ‘original’ elephant man, Joseph Merrick, who lived in the late 1800s
Mr Lal on the other hand has lost hope, saying he would like to get married and have children but that ‘fathers think their daughters are going to catch my disease.’
‘They think it’s contagious and they quickly leave because they’re scared.’
When he travels outside his village people are amazed by his facial deformity and think he is an incarnation of the Hindu elephant God Ganesh.
Mr Lal said: ‘People touch my feet and ask me to pray for them because they say I have the face of a god. But they anger me; of course I’m not a god. I wouldn’t be in this much pain and misery if I was a god.’
‘I would love to get rid of this ugly face. If a doctor out there thinks they can do something I’d have no issues. I’d try anything.’
Dr Vinayak Mishra, 34, a general surgeon at Hemkunt Private Nursing Home, in Lucknow, said: ‘This is a severe case of neurofibromatosis Type I. The tumour has completely deformed his facial structure.
‘If this disease continues to progress he might develop ulcerations and infectious complications. He will not die from this condition but the consequences of having such a big tumour might eventually kill him.’