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Graphic: “Help me amputate my swollen size 16 foot” pleads desperate man with rare genetic condition

A desperate man is pleading to have his foot AMPUTATED after it swelled to size 16 due to a rare genetic condition.

Jeffrey Ortega says he is in constant agonising pain caused by the grotesque build up of flesh at the base of both his feet.

The 26-year-old suffers from Proteus Syndrome which has caused his feet to balloon to twice their normal size.

The condition causes bones, skin and tissue overgrowth, and affects just a handful of people worldwide.

It has affected Jeffrey’s hands, hips, and legs – and he believes amputation of his left foot will relieve his pain and stop the growth

Proteus Syndrome: The condition has caused Jeffrey’s feet to balloon
BarcroftJeffrey Ortega
Genetic: Jeffrey, aged seven, has suffered with the condition since he was born
BarcroftJeffrey Ortega
Smiling: Jeffrey, aged 12 on a visit to the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, shows clear signs of the condition

Currently his left foot is 17 inches in circumference and 14 inches long while his right foot is 14.5 inches in circumference and 12 inches long.

Jeffrey, from Deerfield Beach, Florida, has been suffering from Proteus Syndrome since he was just a few months old.

He said: “My mother noticed my swollen right index finger when I was only nine months old.

“She thought it was a mosquito bite and tried homemade remedies but it didn’t work.

“When I was one my father noticed that my left leg was a little longer than my right.”

BarcroftJeffrey Ortega
Crocs: The 26-year-old is forced to wear large shoes to help his huge feet fit in them
BarcroftJeffrey Ortega
Agony: Jeffrey is pleading for help to have his foot amputated

Jeffrey stopped wearing regular shoes age 11 and wore only custom shoes, socks – or often went shoeless.

He said: “I was bullied a lot in school, kids would spit on me and said I wore my dad’s shoes.

“I also fell a lot and was eventually pulled out of school because the principal didn’t want to take any chances with me – it was nerve-racking for my family.”

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When he was a teenager Jeffrey was given special shoes that fit his overgrown feet.

He said: “In 2005, the National Institute of Health gave me a pair of Croc shoes, which they thought were the best fit for me.

“They agreed to treat me and perform surgery on me if I allowed them to use me for research about Proteus Syndrome.

BarcroftJeffrey Ortega
Massive: Jeffrey’s feet have swollen to a size 16 due to the condition
BarcroftJeffrey Ortega
Contrast: Jeffrey’s overgrown foot next to his mother, Alicia Ortega’s foot

“I can bathe myself with the Crocs on, and I can maneuver around the house better with them on.

“I only have one pair though, and the soles are falling apart because I’ve been using them for the past four years.

“It’s very sad to me to go to a store and see my family find shoes easily. I have to ask the manager if they could help me find a pair.

“They always tell me to try online stores – but I never have any luck there.”

After 11 failed attempts to treat his feet with surgery, Jeffrey decided that amputation is the best option.

He said: “Five years ago, we asked doctors if amputation would be possible.

“I was ready for the surgery, but then met someone else who had their foot amputated, and it scared me seeing them walking on their knees.

BarcroftJeffrey Ortega
Battle: Jeffrey believes amputation would make his life much easier

“I was a scared teenager but last year I brought it up to doctors again.

“The foundation lost most of it’s funding but recommended another doctor who does amputation.”

Doctors agreed to perform the amputation if Jeffrey paid for the procedure in full.

Jeffrey said: “The operation costs about $40,000 (£25,800) – this includes the surgery, prosthetics, and follow up physical therapy to teach me to walk again.

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“I started a GoFundMe page , but have not reached my goal yet.

“Having the amputation would improve my life so much.

“It would help me walk again and I won’t have to use a wheelchair anymore.”

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