Sulemana Abdul Samed from Ghana is the second tallest man in the world, after Sultan Kösen, who lives in Turkey and currently holds the Guiness World record for the tallest man in the world.
Sulemana is a 29-year-old who was diagnosed with a rare health disorder known as acromegaly a few years ago, which is caused by an excess of growth hormone in the body. More popularly addressed by his nickname “Awuche,” which means “Let’s Go!” in Hausa, he has been quite a spectacle in Ghana.
According to a nurse, who attended to Sulemana recently, “When I first came across Awuche, whose fame had far spread across the area’s grasslands, I realized during a consultation that he had grown taller than even the regular measuring scale! We gathered together as nurses in a group of four, trying to figure out how to determine his height accurately without a measuring scale.”
Awuche is taller than most houses in his neighborhood, so it was difficult to determine a sense of his height even in comparison to structures that would be taller than most people. With the assistance of a measuring tape, Awuche’s height was later determined to be 7.4 feet, which is about a foot shorter than the world’s tallest man.
Gigantism is a very rare condition that develops when a child or adolescent has high levels of growth hormone in their body, causing them to grow very tall, among other symptoms. Gigantism is treatable, but early diagnosis is crucial to prevent excessive height and other complications. If left unchecked till adulthood, the continued overproduction of the growth hormone is then called acromegaly.
This was the case for the current world’s tallest man Sultan Kösan, who was first affected by gigantism as a child and then acromegaly as an adult due to a tumor in his pituitary gland. However, gigantism is an even rarer condition than acromegaly, meaning not all cases of the latter start from childhood.
For Sulemana, the astounding change in height became noticeable when he was 22 years old and living in Ghana’s capital city Accra, where he had moved to seek employment. One day he woke up to a great surprise: his tongue had expanded so much that it choked him! While seeking medical assistance, he learnt that every part of his body had massively increased in size.
Since his diagnosis, Awuche has had monthly checkups due to complications from the condition, including a curved spine and accompanying chronic pains due to the curvature. He also has wounds on his feet, which are not healing as rapidly as expected.
Sulemana had this to say about his current height, “I am still growing in height. Who knows, maybe one day I may get to his [Sultan Kösan] height too or surpass it! Every three months I grow taller. Most people who have not seen me for three or four months are often shocked at my height when they finally do.”
Sultan Kösan also holds the records for the largest hands and feet on a living person.