Oct 18, 2006
Yao Defen is arguably the tallest woman in the world. But it’s not a title she craves. Defen would happily swap the title and a good two foot to be average height and live a normal life. She has been told she could go blind in a matter of months and die within a year. At only 34 years old she is desperate for one last chance at life.Four years ago Defen was measured for the Guinness Book of Records and came up one centimetre shorter than American Sandy Allan But Sandy is now stooped and in a wheel chair and it appears Defen, the daughter of a Chinese peasant farmer, has kept growing. She is now just over 7ft 8 inches tall. Both women suffer from Agromegaly – a disease resulting from a tumour on the pituitary gland causing it to pump out excess growth hormone. Defen was diagnosed when she was just 15 years old. She was already well over 6ft tall and tests at a local hospital revealed a large tumour was causing her growth spurts. Her family were too poor to pay for surgery so Defen was sent back to her village where she continued to grow and grow. The family home was too small for her to live in so she slept in the stable with the animals. Thirteen years later doctors from another province saw Defen performing in a circus and realising what was wrong with her offered to operate for free. They were able to partially remove the tumour. But now six years later it has grown back and is pressing on her optic nerve. She could go blind in the next few months and die with in a year without complicated surgery. Thanks to a documentary being made for a British Television programme, two of the leading doctors specialising in Acromegaly have offered to help Yao Defen.