At seven foot eight inches, Win ‘Big Zaw’ Oo towers over the average man in Myanmar.
“Big Zaw,” as his friends call him, suffers from a rare pituitary gland tumour which causes the body to produce excessive growth hormones.
The 36-year-old gentle giant left Myanmar on Thursday with a medical team to undergo surgery in Singapore.
“I do not fit in any ordinary car. When the doctor brought me here, he had to hire a truck,” he said, adding that he was anxious about getting on a plane.
For most of his life, Big Zaw has struggled with his size. He had to get his shoes and longyis – the sarong-like skirt worn by men and women in Myanmar – custom-made.
His condition also means he gets tired easily, making it hard for him to hold down a job. Although he has said he can utilize his height to help out in construction at his village.
He quickly rose to fame after his story emerged, propelled by interest from media and medical experts, and his treatment will be funded by private donations from Myanmar and Singapore.
Doctors in Myanmar said Big Zaw appears to have stopped growing, but is susceptible to future health risks, such as diabates, high blood pressure and heart problems. Life expectancy is also reduced.
“He needs to be cured,” said Myatthu Mynn, part of the medical team traveling with him to Singapore.
Doctors also said the procedure – which involves accessing the pituitary gland at the base of the brain through the nose or with an incision in the mouth – is too advanced for hospitals in Myanmar, where the health system was left chronically under-funded by the former military junta regime.
by Maesie Bertumen