Her Leg Swelled So Much That It Looked Like an Elephant Leg, But Doctors Couldn’t Make a Diagnosis Until…


Her Leg Swelled So Much That It Looked Like an Elephant Leg, But Doctors Couldn’t Make a Diagnosis Until…

Fifty-four-year-old Roseanne Smith was only 18 when she first noticed her foot and ankle beginning to swell. Over the years, the area grew steadily more swollen, to the point where her entire right leg was more than twice the size of her left. She saw many doctors, but they were stumped as to the cause of the problem.


Roseanne’s leg swelled so much that it took on the appearance of an elephant leg or tree trunk. It had a negative effect on her personal life, caused a great deal of discomfort and even left her unable to walk. For years, she was the victim of stares by strangers and mocked.


At one point, Smith came across an article in a newspaper that gave her some hope. In spite of the fact that doctors were unable to tell her exactly what was wrong with her leg, she read in the article that a ballerina suffered from the exact same condition.


Then, in 1987, Roseanne finally had a name to put on her condition as doctors diagnosed her with a condition called lymphedema. It is a medical condition in which lymphatic fluid buildup occurs in areas of the body like the legs, arms, hands or face and causes those body parts to swell up far beyond their normal proportions. Unfortunately, people who suffer from the condition face a number of challenges, and Roseanne was no exception. She found that she had to change her entire wardrobe so that she could have clothing big enough to accommodate her abnormally large leg.


READ ALSO: 4 Ways to Treat Your Swollen Knees

Lymphedema most often occurs after cancer treatment when lymph nodes have been removed or damaged. The condition largely occurs because of a blockage in the lymphatic system, preventing fluid from normally draining from the affected area.

Roseanne had all but given up on the idea of ever regaining a normal life until she learned about stem cell treatment by a doctor named Dr. Shim in South Korea. She was determined to learn more and spent almost two years raising funds so she could make a trip go South Korea to meet with the physician.

In April 2016, Smith had 30 pints of lymphatic fluid drained from her leg. She also received treatment from Dr. Shim by having stem cells injected into her leg. The goal of the treatment was to give her lymphatic system a reboot of sorts.

Currently, Roseanne reports that her leg has slimmed down by around 50 percent, allowing her to walk normally for the first time in over 20 years. She states that she believed her affected leg was 30 pounds heavier than the other, normal one and that her condition caused her to have a bad outlook on life. She says she now has a new lease on life and is happy with the results of her treatment.

Smith will have to undergo monthly injections to keep the swelling in her leg at bay and to ensure that the swelling continues to reduce. Her monthly costs for the treatment will average more than $800 (600 pounds). She is currently trying to raise funds to continue with her treatment as she will have to follow up with Dr. Shim in South Korea.

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