A 35-year-old woman in a poor, rural village in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang seems threatening to strangers because of her densely covered bubble-like lumps, Lao Dong newspaper reported.
Thousands of small tumors are covering Thach Thi Sa Ly's body, including her eyes, nose and her face. The tumors have grown on her like lumps on a tree, and scare away people from approaching her.
Ly came from a poor family in Ngan Ro Hamlet, Tran De Town. Thach Thi Sa Phay, her 63-year-old mother, said Ly was born normal like her seven brothers and sisters.
When she was more than one year old, some small lumps developed on her back. The older she grew, more and bigger lumps grew on her body.
Phay said the family could not afford medicine fees, so Ly had to live with the lumps. She was too afraid to go to school. She lived quietly and alone with no friends of her age.
When Ly turned 25, Phay brought her to Soc Trang Province General Hospital, where doctors said they were unable to explain her condition and told Phay to take Ly to a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.
Phay could not afford it, so she brought Ly back home. Ly's condition got worse and she could not walk properly.
She must rely on her mother to attend to her basic needs.
Phay said neighbors are scared of Ly's lumps, and no one dares get close to her. Early this year, the Tran De Town authorities provided a nine-month benefit to Ly. It was the only time the family has received an offer of help from local authorities.
"Maybe my daughter's condition depends on Heaven's will," Phay said in tears.
According to Lao Dong, Ly's condition is similar to that of Nguyen Thi Dang, a 60-year-old woman in Ha Nam Province, and Nguyen Dinh Chieu, a 50-year-old man in Hanoi. Both patients have bubble-like tumors all over their bodies.
Vietnamese doctors said the two patients had Neurofibromatosis (also known as von Recklinghausen disease) a genetically-inherited disorder in which the nerve tissue grows tumors that may be benign or may cause serious damage by compressing nerves and other tissues.
However, they said there is no specific treatment to the disease.
Recently, Chandra Wisnu, a 57-year-old Indonesian man, has received attention for a rare disease that has left him covered in tumors resembling pink bubble wrap. The married father-of-four was dubbed as "the Bubble Man" because of his tumors.
During the early stages of the disease, Wisnu's parents took him to see a number of doctors and dermatologists, who were baffled by the severity of his symptoms.
He was told the condition was genetic and may be caused by an abnormality in the nervous system that causes benign tumors to develop on the skin or bone.
He was prescribed a number of creams "” but they did nothing to stop the lesions from spreading.
Unable to find a cure and no longer able to afford medical treatment, Wisnu was forced to live with the bizarre condition.