What is it like to be head-and-shoulders above all the other children at school, or the tallest girl or boy in the world? What are the day-to-day challenges for these children and for their parents? And how does it affect the children’s health?
Superhuman: World’s Tallest Children reveals the stories of children who have reached superhuman heights – like the 13-year-old who’s already over seven foot tall, the tallest family in England and the girl from Bangkok hoping to achieve a Guinness World record for her height.
Brenden Adams is the world’s tallest boy - at just 13, he’s seven feet four and a half inches tall. Brenden comes from Ellensburg in Washington. He has a unique genetic condition which isn’t hereditary – the rest of his family are of average height. Brendan is two feet taller than his friends, but still attempts to join in the activities of a normal thirteen year old.
Brenden has been in and out of hospital for much of his life. He was born with a unique genetic abnormality, which has also caused enlarged joints and swollen eyelids.
As he has grown faster than any child ever his future is uncertain. His mother says: “You want an answer; you want to know what’s wrong with my child, why is this happening. And nobody can tell you. Nobody can give you an answer.”
11-year-old Naomi Van Nes, at five feet nine inches tall, is head and shoulders above her school friends. She may stand out at school but at home her height is nothing extraordinary. The Van Nes’s are thought to be Britain’s tallest family. Dad Frank and 16-year-old son Vincent are six feet ten inches, 15-year-old Lucas is six foot eight, 13-year-old Franklin is six foot one and mum Miriam is nearly six foot tall. When they go out as a family they are the object of curiosity and at times ridicule, but at home they can be themselves. Their house has been specially designed to take into account their height, with extra long beds, higher worktops in the kitchen and taller windows so they can enjoy the views. Naomi says: “I do notice I am the shortest at home, and the tallest at school. I think I feel better at home – because I just feel normal.”
When Garret Anderson last saw his daughter, Marvadene Anderson, she was seven years old and came up to his waist. Now 15, Marvadene has shot up to six foot nine inches and plays for the Jamaican national basketball team. She travels from her home in Jamaica for a reunion with father in Manchester. Garrett is six foot five tall, but how will he feel about being outgrown by his daughter?
Craig Glenday, editor of the Guinness World Records book, travels from London to Bangkok to verify a possible new world record. 17-year-old Malee Duangdee has found it hard to be accepted because of her height. Her father tells the programme: “When she walked down the street many people called her a giant and laughed at her.”
Malee says: “So many times I ask myself why? I sit in front of the mirror and cry. Why am I not the same as other people.” Malee’s height is caused by a tumour on her pituitary gland, a condition which could be fatal. She desperately needs expensive drugs and the fame of holding a Guinness World Record may bring the money her family needs for her treatment.
Eight-year-old Angelique Cooper is already the tallest in her class and is the height of an average ten year old. She thinks this is “cool” but her dad, Nick, is six foot nine, and fears his daughter may struggle if she becomes exceptionally tall. He tells the programme that he was bullied at school because of his height and Angelique admits that she is sometimes picked on at school. Growth expert Professor Noel Cameron meets Angelique at a Bristol hospital, and analyses an X-ray of her hand to make an accurate prediction of her adult height. What will Nick and Angelique make of the professor’s results?
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