Tallest Woman Dies At 39: Video Shares Yao Defen's Life In China [VIDEO]

By Danny Choy on December 5, 2012 1:54 PM EST

Yao Defen
Yao Defen stood at 7 feet, 8 inches tall. (Photo: Reuters)

Yao Defen, record holder for the world's tallest woman, passed away last month, November 13, at her home in the eastern province of Anhui, China. Yao was 39-years-old.

Yao immortalized in the history books when Guinness World Records confirmed that she was the "World's Tallest Living Woman" in January 2010. Yao Defen's height was 7 feet, 8 inches tall.

A neighbor first discovered that Yao Defen was in trouble. "I saw Yao lying on the bed but she was not breathing,” the neighbor said. “Her sisters rushed back home too, and soon afterward the doctor announced she had passed away."

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According to local Chinese news agencies, a government official who identified himself as Liu visited Yao on November 13 and confirmed her death.

Yao Defen's specific cause of death has yet to be determined but specialists suspect that it is associated with her abnormal condition known as gigantism, a symptom caused by a tumor int he pituitary gland which severely alters the levels of Yao's growth hormone. Although the tumor was successfully removed from Yao during a procedure in 2006, the tumor has already caused other serious conditions to threaten her health, including a blood clot in her brain.

Growing up, Yao Defen grew at an alarming rate and by the age of 15, she was already 6 foot, 6 inches tall. Like many individuals that have suffered from gigantism in the past, Yao Defen joined the circus to earn money but had quite in 2004 due to unbearable ridicule for her condition.

In a video documentary taken 3 years ago, Yao expressed misery over her handicap. "I am very unhappy. Why am I this tall? If I were not this tall, others would not look at me like this."

Take a look at Yao and her unfortunate condition in the video documentary below:

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