Yao Defen, who, at 2.36 metres (7 foot 8 inches) was the tallest woman in the world, has died at her home in Anhui Province. Yao was 40 years old.
Yao passed away on the morning of November 13th in the house which she shared with her mother in a small village in central Anhui Province, according to local media.
Shanghaiist first reported on Yao back in 2006, and again when Yao was in Shanghai to receive treatment for a brain tumour that was the cause of her gigantism. Unfortunately, in recent years, information about Yao and her wellbeing has been scarce and now it seems that her battle with cancer was ultimately unsuccessful.
Yao’s gigantism was caused by a tumour on her pituitary gland which caused her to have grown to 6ft 6in by the time she was just 15-years-old. As an adult, Yao weighed more than 30 stone and had trouble walking. Though there was hope for a time that she would be able to have a successful career as a basketball player, the exertion of carrying her massive frame was too much for her heart and lungs to take. For a time Yao found work in a circus freak show which toured the country, but was reportedly subject to abuse and ridicule by the circus owners, she left the circus in 2004.
A neighbour, speaking to local media, said she heard Yao’s mother shouting on the morning of the 13th that something was wrong with her daughter. “People immediately rushed over to their home,” she said, “I saw Yao lying on the bed but she was not breathing. Her sisters rushed back home too, and soon afterwards the doctor announced she had passed away.”
Her mother reportedly cried until she passed out, only then were relatives able to take Yao’s corpse away.