The tallest man in the world, Turkish national Sultan Kösen (8ft 3in; 2.51m) landed in Mauritius yesterday – a volcanic island nation in the Indian Ocean known for its beaches, lagoons and reefs.
Upon arrival, crowds greeted him at the Indian Ocean country’s international airport while he stood visibly taller than all in the crowd.
Sultan became the tallest man in the world alive in 2009, when he measured 246.5 cm (8 ft 1 in) in height. He seized the title from Xi Shun (China, b. 1951), who measured 2.361 m (7 ft 8.95 in) in height when measured in 2005.
Sultan also holds the title for the largest hands of a living person with each of them measuring 28.5 cm (11.22 in) from the wrist to the tip of the middle finger.
He was formerly named the largest feet on a living person, with his left foot measuring 36.5 cm (1 ft 2 in) and right foot measuring 35.5 cm (1 ft 1.98 in).
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Medically speaking, Sultan’s growth and incredible height was caused by a condition known as “pituitary gigantism”- an outcome of an over-production of growth hormone. Growth hormone is normally released from the pituitary gland in the brain. But if the gland is damaged by a form of disorder, for instance tumour, it can release too much or too little hormone.
The over-production of hormones lead to large hands, a thickening of the bones, and painful joints. Sultan didn’t start his incredible growth spurt until he was 10 years old.
But he seemingly stopped growing after he received a revolutionary gamma-knife surgery on the tumour affecting his pituitary gland which was offered by the University of Virginia, USA, in August 2010.
The surgery stopped his production of growth hormone. Many people wondered how he could ever find a wife or true love due to his out-of-this-world height and some deliberated on the height of woman he would marry. The tallest man in the world later found love and settled down with a normal-sized woman – though it wasn’t easy.
Guinness World Records Sultan Kosen revealed that he was unable to find love for years as women were put off by his stature. But the Turkish man’s bachelor days became over when he met his Syrian fiancée in his hometown. He noted that during his search for love, he never thought he was disadvantaged by his height – not for a second.
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He said that the only time he describes his stature as a disadvantage is whenever he shops for wears; not being able to find clothes or shoes that fit or finding it extremely hard to fit into a regular size car.
Sultan is born into a family of five, with three brothers and one sister. The rest of his family, including his mum and dad, are all ‘normal’ sized. Sultan dropped out of school because of his extreme height. He now works occasionally as a farmer to support his family.