Egyptian Huda Abdel Gawad, one of the world’s tallest women, died on Saturday, aged 27, from complications caused by kidney failure, her brother said.
A resident of Egypt’s Sharqiyah province, Huda and her brother Mohammed were born with a rare hormonal disorder called gigantism that makes their bodies continue growing throughout their lives.
The pair set several Guinness World Records in June for various aspects of their anatomies.
Huda set three records – one each for possessing the largest feet and hands on a living female, at 33.1 centimetres for her right foot and 24.3cm for her left hand, and a third for the widest arm span on a living female, at 236.3cm.
Mohammed set two records, one for the widest hand span on a living male at 31.3cm, on his left hand. The other was for the widest arm span on a living male – 250.3cm.
“I haven’t quite made sense of the whole thing,” Mohammed, 34, told The National. “Although I can’t say I’m surprised. Doctors have been telling us for years that people with our condition don’t live that long if it goes untreated.”
Gigantism is caused by benign tumours that develop on a person's pituitary gland in childhood, making it unable to cease production of growth hormone.
As the person’s bones continue growing, their organs and muscles, which do not grow in size, struggle to operate an ever-expanding anatomy. The risk of organ failure is high in people with this condition.
Mohammed was 2.10 metres when The National spoke to him in June, while his sister Huda was slightly shorter at 2.04 metres.
Following their Guinness recognition this year, the siblings hoped to use their newfound fame to increase their income. They found it difficult to get work because of their condition, which rendered their bodies incapable of too much movement or physical exertion.
The pair said they faced a tremendous amount of bullying while they were growing up, and only found solace in each other’s company.
The funeral for Huda was held in her home town in Sharqiyah on Sunday.
“There are no words to describe how crushing this loss is for me," Mohammed said.
"She was the only person who intimately understood what my life had been like.
"But this is God's plan, and if my life has taught me one thing it is how to overcome hardships."