May 8, 2013
Wesley Warren Jr. watched his scrotum swell into a 134-pound mass in the last five years. It hung down to his ankles. He could barely walk anymore.
How did such a thing happen?
"I quickly sat up on the side of the bed after bursting out of a nightmare," said Warren, 48, recalling a fluke, mid-sleep motion that "slammed" his right testicle.
"I felt the most enormous amount of pain."
The pain quickly subsided, but the nightmare had just begun. The scrotum began to swell, and swell, and swell. And swell. And anitbiotics had no effect.
Without a diagnosis or, seemingly, any hope of a cure, Warren, who lives off of disability benefits in Las Vegas, turned to radio host Howard Stern for help.
They solicited donations to benefitballsack [at] yahoo.com.
"It may not sound like the classiest of email addresses, but it's one people can remember," he said, specially considering Howard Stern's male audience.
Also, he could barely walk and was willing to try anything.
"I had a disability that was getting worse, not getting better."
Warren was later photographed wearing a hoodie as pants to accommodate the mass and stopped "every few steps" to rest his scrotum on a milk crate.
This caught the attention of a University of California-Irvine surgeon specializing in scrotal lymphedema, an accumulation of lymphatic fluid inside the scrotum.
"It's very disabling condition because the patient can't work, and if they can't work they often don't have insurance or the money to pay for care," said Dr. Joel Gelman.
"He said he didn't have any money, so we did it for free."
Warren used money from Stern's listeners to travel from Las Vegas to Irvine, Calif., where on April 8 Gelman removed the 134-pound mass in a 13-hour surgery.
"Some of the veins in the mass were a quarter-inch in diameter," Gelman said, recalling the lengthy and risky procedure to remove the mass in one giant piece.
"With the fluid and other tissues, I would say the total weight exceeded 160 pounds."
Warren, who is still recovering at a nursing home in Orange, Calif., said he can finally wear normal underwear and pants, but he's not yet used to the change.
"My body is acclimating," he said. "I'm still not able to get around much."
But, he said, things are looking up at last, and "I intend to make up for it and treat myself to a truly fabulous meal and enjoy relaxing for at least a few days."
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