Surgeon Performs Free Surgery on 132-Pound Scrotum
Wesley Warren Jr, 49, suffered from a rare medical condition known as scrotal lymphedema. The rare medical condition caused Wesley Warren’s scrotum to swell to a massive 132 pounds. The condition placed the Las Vegas man in a near crippling state.
During my initial report on Wesley Warren Jr. a few years ago, Dr. Joel Gelman of the Center for Reconstructive Urology provided some insights into Wesley Warren’s medical condition. During my conversation with Dr. Gelman, I asked if he would perform the much needed surgery on Wesley Warren for free and he agreed. You see, Warren was making attempts to raise money to pay for his surgery; however, surgery for scrotal lymphedema can cost well over a million dollars. The fearful man also denied assistance from other well-meaning folks as a result of his extreme fear of dying during surgery.
On April 8, 2013, Dr. Joel Gelman and his team of experts donated their services. As agreed, Dr. Gelman was not paid for his heroic act.
Firecracker Films completed a documentary, The Man with the 10-Stone Testicles, based on Warren’s battle with scrotal lymphedema. The documentary was featured on a British television network and TLC. Dr. Gelman and Warren both appeared on the television show The Doctors to talk about the successful ending to a condition that caused a living nightmare for Wesley Warren.
Dr. Gelman joins me in this week’s MADE OF SHADE.
Quassan: So great to speak with you again Dr. Gelman! So I interviewed you a couple of years ago about Warren and you provided some insight about his condition. I received an impulsive urge to ask if you would perform the necessary operation for free and you agreed. You did not get paid for the surgery. What’s happened since the last time we spoke?
Dr. Joel Gelman: There was some delay because he was initially afraid to have the surgery. He was told he was at high risk of dying on the table or losing his penis and testicles. The surgery was successful in removing the mass without any of these major complications. However, after surgery, the skin used to cover the penis and testicles became swollen. This was not unexpected and was discussed with Mr. Warren in advance. He then underwent another major surgery to remove the swollen tissue and a skin graft was used to cover the penis and a small portion of the scrotum. His penis now looks more normal and is of a more normal length. There was never any damage to his normal penis or testicles. I called him today, and he is doing very well. To date, I’ve received no compensation for any of the care I provided from any source. We’ve appeared on TLC, The Doctors and many other shows to discuss his condition and surgery.
Quassan: Do you feel like a hero?
Dr. Gelman: No. Examples of heroes are Michael Monsoor, and my Navy Seal and Marine nephews.
Quassan: For those who still may not know or understand what scrotal lymphedema is, explain what this condition is?
Dr. Gelman: Scrotal lymphedema is a build up of tissue between the normal testicles and the skin of the scrotum. This tissue contains fluid called lymph inside the cells that cannot drain back to the body. It becomes trapped, and the swelling becomes progressive. Over time, this can lead to massive swelling.
Quassan: Are there any risks involved with a surgery?
Dr. Gelman: The risks depend on the expertise of the surgeons. I have read publications where the doctors felt that removal of both testicles was necessary, but we have never had damage to a testicle or the penis.
Quassan: Wesley Warren Jr. is an African American man. Is scrotal lymphedema specific to men of color?
Dr. Gelman: No.
Quassan: Can a patient die from scrotal lymphedema?
Dr. Gelman: No. However, chronic debilitation can lead to health problems that can lead to premature death.
Quassan: If you’re poor and need to have surgery for a condition such as lymphedema, what are your options?
Dr. Gelman: Hospitals do emergency surgery without payment when people with no money or insurance need care. However, hospitals do not allow expensive elective surgery when the patient has no means. Although I and other doctors did Mr. Warren’s surgery for free, the hospital was paid (a low amount) from Nevada Medicaid. Sadly, it is often the case that people who need elective surgery cannot get care without some sort of hospital coverage.
Quassan: Have you remained in contact with Wesley Warren? If so, what is he up to?
Dr. Gelman: Yes. He is doing very well. He needs to lose a lot of weight, and hopefully the successful treatment will facilitate this.
Dr. Gelman – Center For Reconstructive Urology
Quassan Castro is a news and entertainment journalist. Chat with Quassan on Twitter at @Quassan.