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‘Elephant Man’ suffers setback in bid for treatment

'Elephant Man' Michael Cull
'Elephant Man' Michael Cull

A pensioner dubbed a modern day “Elephant Man” has suffered another setback in his battle against a mystery disease which has made his life a misery.

Michael Cull has endured a decade of pain after his left leg ballooned to more than three stone in weight, leaving him incapable of walking any distance and making him the target of taunts from strangers.

Earlier this year, he accused the medical profession of turning its back on him after being told there was nothing that could be done to help him.

However, after speaking to the Press and Journal about his ordeal, the 66-year-old from Rosehearty was told funding from NHS Grampian had been secured and he could travel to Hull for the operation.

Now, Mr Cull claims he has been told the surgery will not go ahead as planned, and is demanding answers.

“One minute I’m told I’ll get the operation, the next I’m told I won’t,” he said.

“When I went to see the doctor in Hull he said this could be dealt with, what operations I’d require, and was I told I could get treated in late October, early November time.

“The head of NHS Grampian says finance is not the problem, so what is the problem?”

The retired computer technician’s nightmare started following a car accident while he was living in London.

He was later diagnosed as having gross lymphedema.

Despite attempts to halt the growth of his leg with stockings after he moved to Scotland, it continued to swell.

The condition has now spread from his toes up to his hip, leaving his leg lumpy and deformed.

It was only after Mr Cull made contact with First Minister Alex Salmond that he was referred to a consultant in Dundee last year.

He diagnosed elephantiasis a disease found in third world countries and said the condition was causing large cysts to form on his kidneys.

However, when Mr Cull visited the London Hospital of Tropical Diseases earlier this year, blood tests failed to find any signs of the parasite that is the most common cause of the condition.

Mr Cull said his leg now weighs about three stone and he has difficulty finding trousers that fit.

He said he rarely left his home in Rosehearty because he was in so much discomfort, and when he did he was often the butt of “Elephant Man” jokes in the street.

A spokesman for Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust said she was unable to comment.

An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said: “If any patient is uncertain or has any concerns about their referral, they should take it up with their GP.”

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