Twelve-year-old Bithi Akhtar of Bangladesh is suffering from hypertrichosis, or what is popularly known as “werewolf syndrome,” and has to live her life like a recluse. Her entire body, including her face, is covered in thick black hair.
Hypertrichosis is a rare genetic condition where hair grows all over the face and body, and gets worse with puberty.
Last year, Akhtar had a sudden abnormal growth spurt in her breasts, the weight of which wouldn't even let her stand up straight. Her mother Beauty Akhtar, 27, kept her back from school to shield her from her classmates' jibes.
“My daughter was born with thick black hair that looked like wool all over her body,” she said, “I think she got the 'disease' when she was in my womb. We sought help from several doctors but no one could treat her completely. Although the hair stopped growing further long. But last year, she complained of pain in her chest. I understood it was natural as she was hitting puberty but her growth was again abnormal. Her breasts grew so fast that they became really heavy and started sagging below her stomach. She would cry all day long because of the immense pain due to the weight. She could not walk or sit straight.”
Bithi's father Abdur Razzak ferries passengers on a rented motorcycle and makes £30 (INR 2,892) per day. He had to take a loan from the bank so he could take Bithi to Dhaka, and admit her to a hospital. “I have already spent a lot of money on her treatment even though that has not paid off well. But my daughter's condition has shattered me. I am heartbroken to see her in pain and live a life of recluse. I want to give her a normal life and I am determined to get help from specialists. I borrowed £100 from the bank and brought her straight to the hospital. I am hoping they will give the best treatment to Bithi.”
Bithi is presently at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical College, where doctors are puzzled over the treatment they should provide Bithi. “This looks like a severe case of abnormal hormones, we call it Haramonajanita. While we think some of the problems will go away with medicine, we are yet to ascertain her medical history and causes and start the treatment,” said Dr. Farid Uddin, Head of Department of Hormones.