Like most 16-year-old boys, Mithun Chauhan’s mind is occupied by three things: Going to school, playing with his friends and meeting girls.
But after a rare genetic condition left his body covered in large swollen lumps, he has convinced himself that he is destined to go through life alone.
Mithun spends his days at home because his swollen face frightens locals, who have branded him ‘Ghost Boy’. He cannot go to school because other children flee when they see him.
‘Why have the gods condemned me to a life like this?’ the teenager said through the inflamed lumps around his mouth.
‘It is because of the way I look that my friends have abandoned me. Now nobody wants to play with me.
‘Ghost boy’: A rare genetic condition has left Mithun Chauhan’s face and body covered in lumps which obstruct his breathing and sight
Deserted by his friends: Sixteen-year-old Mithun’s parents have forbidden him from leaving their house in Navada, India, because his appearance frightens locals there
Cursed by the god: Mithun’s family claim he has been cursed by spirits, but a medical expert in India diagnosed him with neurofibroma, a genetic disorder in which tumours grow on nerves
‘It because of my looks that I cannot go to school or simply take a stroll in the neighbourhood.’
His family from Navada in Indian, claim the sores spread across his body after a doctor prescribed the wrong medicine to treat a painful mole when he was five.
The swelling around his face grew so severe that he struggles to eat, see and breathe.
‘After taking the medicine, Mithun’s face started swelling. His entire body turned red like copper,’ said his father Ramji Chauhan.
Ramji and his worried neighbours feared that his son had been ‘cursed’ by the gods, so they prayed every day and performed rituals to cure him.
It was not until he was taken to Dr Ashwini Dash, that he was diagnosed with neurofibroma, a rare genetic disorder that causes tumours to grow along nerves.
Swelling: Mithun’s family claims the sores spread across his body after a doctor in Bihar state gave him the wrong medicine to treat a painful mole when he was five. The swelling around his face grew so severe that he struggles to eat and breathe
Lonely: When Mithun was eight his parents enrolled him in a local primary school but the other children screamed and ran off when they saw him. ‘It is because of my looks that my childhood friends have abandoned me,’ he said
There is no known cure for the most severe form of the disease, which afflicts around one in 33,000 people, but Indian doctors believes Mithun can be cured.
‘It only warrants surgery if obstruction of eye, mouth nose or natural orifices obstruction is there,’ Dr Dash told MailOnline.
NEUROFIBROMA: THE FACTS
The name for a group of conditions that cause lumps to grow on the coverings of nerves.
There are two main types – the most common being Type 1 or NF1. This affects around one person in 2,500. There is no known cure.
NF is caused by a mutation in one of the genes. About half of the people who have NF have no family history of the condition. This is called a spontaneous gene mutation. The other half of people will have inherited NF from their mother or father.
Some sufferers are affected by neurofibromas, which usually appear during adolescence. These may first appear on the skin as a purplish mark, before a small fibrous lump appears. They can also grow along deeper-seated nerves inside the body, which can be painful if knocked.
The lumps can increase in number during a person’s lifetime. There is no treatment to stop the lumps from appearing although surgery or laser treatment can sometimes be used to remove.
Mithun’s parents are desperate for him to get an education but until his condition is treated no schools will accept him as a student for fear he ‘would scare away the normal kids’.
He was admitted to a local primary school aged eight but on his first day, the children were revolted by the sight of him.
‘They called me a ghost and started running for their life as if they had a seen a real one,’ said Mithun.
And unlike his carefree childhood friends who abandoned him, he cannot even bear to look at his own reflection or go out in public.
He said: ‘I am really scared of the image that I see in them… I usually stay at home during the day to avoid people.
‘If women and children see my face, they freak out and run away saying, “Ghost! Ghost!”
‘My parents have forbidden me to go out at night as people tend to get more scared of seeing my face at night.
‘I spend most of my time alone at home. I have no friends.
‘There is no one to talk to. I don’t know what the point of my life is.’
One medical expert, who did not want to be named, said Mithun’s illness is treatable.
He said: ‘The operation, which would be done in phases, would cost at least Rs 300,000 rupees (£3,500).’
Isolated: Mithun’s parents are desperate to give him an education no schools will accept him because they fear that other students will be frightened of him
Seeking surgery: One medical expert said Mithun’s illness is treatable but the £3,500 price tag is way beyond what his father, left, a labourer, who earns around £3-a-day, can afford
Doctors have told Ramji to take his son to more advanced facilities in Delhi or Mumbai but he barely earns enough to feed his family.
His heartbroken father told added: ‘The condition has robbed him of his childhood already.
‘It is very painful to see and hear people hating your child for his physical appearance and calling him a “ghost”.’