By Haziq Qadri @haziq_qadri

A GENETIC mutation has caused a woman’s leg to swell to more than three times its normal size

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Videographer / director: Sameer Mushtaq
Producer: Haziq Qadri, Ruby Coote
Editor: Beth Angus

Tawheeda Jan, aged 21, from Indian Administered Kashmir, was born with Lymphatic Filariasis, a condition more commonly known as elephantiasis. 

Elephantiasis is characterized by thickening of the skin and subcutaneous tissue that causes grossly enlarged and stolen limbs.
The condition has affected Tawheeda since birth but has worsened over time - leaving her housebound.

Tawheeda told Barcroft TV: “I was born like this. This is a very serious trouble for me. My life is not normal at all.”

“Initially my condition was not affecting me much. But later the weight was too much for my body to handle.”

Sadly, Tawheeda has never worn a pair of shoes because of the massive size of her leg and feet. 

She explained: “From my early childhood, I never wore a pair of shoes or sandals. I was always fond of fancy shoes but wasn’t lucky enough to wear one.”

“I got a pair of shoes in 2014 because I love to have them but later I have to gift them to a friend.”

Tawheeda has undergone a few unsuccessful surgeries, including the removal of eight toes, but the doctors couldn’t manage to reduce the growth of her feet. 

She said: “My toes were cut off because the doctors thought it might stop the growth of my feet.

“Now my feet feel a bit better but it is my left leg which is giving me trouble."
Tawheeda can no longer attend school as her condition makes it impossible to make the journey there. 

She explained: "We had a middle school here in the village. I used to go there until the 8th grade. But If I wanted to continue with further study I would have to go to another village. This was too far so I had to stop my studies."

Sadly, Tawheeda’s time at her school was also affected by bullying from some other pupils. 

 She said: “As a kid, I was able to attend school regularly  - but was targeted by bullies, who nicknamed me ‘elephant girl’ due to the girth of my leg.That was something that made me sad.”

Mom Saleema Jan is worried about the future of her daughter as they struggle to get her treatment.

Saleema told Barcroft TV: “She was born like this – with a big leg, unlike my other children. I feel terrible to see her struggling in doing the daily chores."
Tlwheeda’s family has been travelling a lot to meet doctors for the possible treatment but have so far not had any success in treating her condition.

Saleema said: “We have taken her to many doctors in various cities across Kashmir, but no-one was able to treat her illness.

“We then took her to Shimla Hospital and they started the treatment there. Her toes were amputated and now she feels a little better.”

But despite the amputation easing Tawheeda’s discomfort, she is still often in pain due to the condition. 

She said: “This is getting worse day by day and it hurts a lot. I am not able to work and I can’t play with my friends outside. I can’t even go out of my house.

“During the winters, I develop cracks on my feet as I can’t wear my shoes. I have to walk barefeet and it hurts a lot during winter.”

But Tawheeda refuses to give up hope and dreams of the day she will be able to walk properly and run like normal girls. 

She said: “I am sure I will find someone who can treat this condition. I’ll wait for the day when I can run without any pain."