Didier Montalvo, also known as the “turtle boy” was pronounced with CMN or Congenital Melanocytic Nevus in the year 2011. He has a humongous mole on his back that covers it completely and is in a turtle like shape. The eight year old boy went to the UK for his treatment and to meet others with the similar disorder. The shell like growth on his back had almost 20%of his body weight which he got surgically removed. This kind of disorder causes birthmarks and moles that are different than what might be called normal. A group called Caring Matters now supports people with CMN and has consistently been helping Didier after which life for him has changed. According to Skynews, Caring Matters now has funded for more than $137,000 till now.
In 2012, Didier met Dr. Neil Bulstrode a leading British Plastic surgeon from the U.K hospital, the Great Ormond Street Hospital. He travelled to Bogota to remove Didier’s mole without any fees. However his mole has started growing back now. The doctors are working on a long term treatment for CMN patients. Finding a permanent cure also gets difficult as people suffering from CMN are also prone to Melanoma. Over the past few years researchers have been able to change the course of the disorder by reversing its growth after birth. CMN is found in one out of 20,000 births as reported by Caring Matters Now. Before the kid’s mole was removed he was isolated from his community and couldn’t even attend school. The people in his community took his disorder as a supernatural act and thought of him as evil. The mole also affected his overall physical growth. But with the help of the organization Didier and his mother have been able to travel from Colombia to meet other children suffering from the similar disorder and take part in a treatment program with them at the Great Ormond Street hospital in the U.K and the Beatson Institute in Glasgow. This experience for him has been exhilarating as he came to know that he isn’t the only one suffering from this rare disorder. The organization has initiated more fundraising projects in order to help him continue his treatment.
He was diagnosed with CMN in 2011. The Doctors treated it as a “rare mole condition” and worried that it could become poisonous. Eventually his mole was surgically removed. Even though it has started coming back but Didier is happy that he has a normally shaped torso now and he often visits U.K to cheer up other children by showing them the change. He also met the founder of Caring Matters now – Jodi Whitehouse who reported that the organization supports more than 400 families in the UK and outside UK. They offer funds for travelling and have a real network where actual treatment and research for CMN is taking place at the global level where children are getting to know that they are not alone and there are others like them in this condition.
Didier Montalvo – Turtle Boy (Pictures before surgery)
Didier Montalvo – Post Surgery