The world’s tallest woman, 39-year old Yao Defen, has died of undisclosed causes in China.
Yao suffered from gigantism and had a tumor growing on her pituitary gland, which disrupted her growth pattern from a young age; at 15, she was already 6’7″. She spoke once about her infamous height, saying it caused her grief and unhappiness every day.
“I am very unhappy. Why am I this tall?” she said. “If I were not this tall, others would not look at me like this.”
Yao’s family had hoped at one time that she would find success as a basketball player, especially after she showed an aptitude for it; however, her frame couldn’t support such a contact sport and she joined a traveling circus instead, landing a job with the “freak show”.
Many people suffering from gigantism have numerous health issues, often starting with the heart. It’s difficult for the human body to grow past a certain size and maintain a healthy blood flow, and many times individuals living with the condition have painful problems with their bones.