Some medical cases are so strange that they almost seem to be from a science fiction novel. One such case is the story of Adam Rainer, the man who was born a dwarf and became a giant.
It is a story that has fascinated doctors and scientists for years and remains somewhat of a mystery. This blog post will look closely at Adam Rainer’s life and determine what caused his strange transformation.
The Early Life of Adam Rainer
Adam Rainer was born in Graz, Austria, in 1899 to average-sized parents; while this may not seem important, there’s no indication that Dwarfism runs in his family. He was a healthy baby, and according to reports, he grew at a relatively average rate, but not much else is known about his earlier life.
Rainer’s condition dominated much of the information recorded about him. By the time he was 19, it was obvious that Rainer was destined to be a dwarf.
When World War I broke out, Rainer enlisted in the army, and at 4’6″, the army ran a series of tests on the teenager to determine his fitness for duty. Unfortunately, the army said he was too short and too weak to serve in the military and rejected him.
Despite his disappointment, Rainer enlisted again about a year after growing nearly 2 inches during that timespan. However, the army rejected him again because his height was not 4’8″. The teenager was labeled a dwarf and fell short of the army’s cut-off of 4’10”.
What was interesting about Rainer’s case is that while he may have been short, he had abnormally large hands and feet for his build.
For instance, at 19, when he tried to enlist, his shoe size was US 10 or EU 43. Yet these defining characteristics would begin to change as Rainer’s physique suddenly started growing.
Rainer Begins To Grow at an Alarming Rate
About three years later, Rainer’s physical features began to change or morph, depending on what you would call it, and his abnormally large hands and feet began to grow again.
At 18, most women will reach their full height, and at 21, most men will reach their full height. So when Rainer’s feet nearly doubled in size from a size 10 to a 20, there were concerns.
While the sudden change in his foot and hand size was surprising, he also began to grow taller. According to historical sources, Rainer grew to a massive 7’1′′ during the next decade.
Unfortunately, he also began to develop spinal curvature from extreme growth. His physical appearance was inexplicable, and no one could determine what was causing his abnormal growth to occur.
So, in 1930 two doctors named Dr. Mandl and Dr. Windholz examined Rainer, who was now 32 years old and, from all accounts, still growing. According to their preliminary findings, they believed Rainer was suffering from a case of acromegaly.
What Is Acromegaly?
Acromegaly is a condition most associated with gigantism, and it’s caused by an excess of growth hormone in the body. However, Rainer’s case is unique because his acromegaly didn’t manifest until he was an adult.
A tumor causes acromegaly on the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain.
This tumor secretes an excess of growth hormone, which leads to gigantism or acromegaly. In children, this increase in height is due to the lengthening of bones, but a height change doesn’t occur in adults. So, what happens is the increase in bone size is limited to the hands, feet, and face.
In adults, it’s common to notice facial changes like a protruding lower jaw and brow bone, enlarged nose, thickened lips, and wider spacing between teeth. However, acromegaly is uncommon and can often progress slowly, making it difficult to notice. This condition is due to a runaway production of Growth Hormone, which can be life-threatening at high levels.
How Acromegaly Affected Adam Rainer
Many of the symptoms of acromegaly manifested in Adam Rainer’s case, such as the enlargement of his hands, feet, and face. However, he also grew taller at an alarming rate, leading to his continued spinal curvature.
Rainer’s case is unique because not only did he suffer from gigantism, but he also experienced it as an adult. In most cases, gigantism is diagnosed in childhood when there is an abnormal increase in height. However, Rainer’s gigantism didn’t manifest until he was 18.
His doctors were particularly concerned about the curvature of his spine, which only seemed to get worse as time wore on. Finally, his deteriorating condition led doctors to deem an operation to remove his tumor necessary.
They believed that by removing the tumor on his pituitary gland, they could stop the excess production of Growth Hormone and hopefully stop his unchecked growth.
A Risky Operation
Adam Rainer underwent a risky operation at the doctor’s behest to remove the tumor on his pituitary gland. The surgical staff was skeptical that they could remove the tumor because it had been growing for a decade, but miraculously they could remove it successfully.
After a few months, they examined Rainer again and were pleased to see that his standing height remained largely the same; however, his spinal curvature was more severe. In short, he was still growing, but at a much slower rate. As is typical with acromegaly, Rainer’s health began to decline as he got older. Among his growing health complications, he went blind in his right eye, suffered from hearing loss in his left ear, and developed debilitating headaches.
Some would argue that his worst development was his spine’s constant curvature, which eventually forced him to remain bedridden. Finally, at the age of 51, Adam Rainer died in his bed, measuring 7’8″ tall, making him the tallest person in Austria at the time of his death.
The Strange Story of Adam Rainer is a cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked growth hormone production. His story is a reminder that even though acromegaly is rare, it can have debilitating consequences. If you or someone you know is experiencing the symptoms of acromegaly, it’s essential to seek medical help right away.
Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to managing this condition; perhaps if medical professionals had managed Rainer’s situation earlier, he might have lived a more comfortable, albeit longer, life.