Yao Defen had a tumor growing on her optic nerve
Yao Defen, the tallest woman in the world, passes away for unknown causes. According to a report by China's state owned newspaper Shanghaiist, her death on November 13 was natural.Defen lived in eastern China, in Shu Cha, the Anhui province. She was only 40 years old, the same publication writes.
She towered at 2.36 meters (7 foot 8 inches), which won her the Guinness title for tallest female. In addition to that, she weighed 200 kg (440 lbs) and her shoes were a size 26 (UK) / 78 (EU), Oddee writes.
She stole the title from the former holder, Sandy Allen, who lives in the United States. She surpassed her by 5 cm (2 inches).
Yao's family was set on her going into basketball; however, she wasn't physically fit. Her large frame put pressure on her heart and lungs. She then took to the circus, which she left in 2004 after being mocked repeatedly.
Defen suffered from gigantism. The condition that made her keep growing was caused by a tumor in her pituitary gland. The tumor had made her bones weak, the same publication reported.
She had to undergo treatment for the tumor in Shanghai, consisting of an operation and physiotherapy. At the time, the media promoted her story, helping her family raise the necessary amount.
Apparently, the condition had been treated before, but had returned recently. The tumor was growing on her optic nerve, and doctors had warned relatives that, if left untreated, it would lead to blindness or death.
On the morning of the 13, it was her mother that discovered she wasn't breathing. Alerted by the woman's screams, neighbors rushed in to check on Yao.
"People immediately rushed over to their home. [...] 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," says a neighbor.