Very few details are known about the life of Adam Rainer, but in a way, he represents an extraordinary piece of medical history. He was born in Graz, Austria in 1899, and as he grew and matured, it became evident that his stature was significantly shorter than the average man. He was classified as a dwarf, standing only 3 feet 10.5 inches (1.18 m) in 1920, his 21st year.

But in his early twenties, Adam's height suddenly began to increase at an astonishing rate, and without any signs of stopping. By his 32nd birthday, his unusually short stature of under four feet was increased to an unusually tall stature of just under 7 feet 2 inches (2.18 m). This incredible sustained rate of growth-- about 3.6 inches per year-- exhausted his body and left him bedridden.

It seems likely that the secretions from the poor chap's pituitary gland-- the gland reponsible for the body's growth hormones-- went from a trickle to to a flood shortly after his 21st birthday. The malfunctioning organ caused his body to devote all of its resources to unchecked growth, leaving him weak and unable to stand.

He lived in this unfortunate condition until he died on March 4, 1950, aged 51. At the time of his death, he was measured at 7 feet 8 inches tall (2.34 m), twice the height he been at age 21. Adam was the only person in medical history to have been classified both as a dwarf and a giant.

Written by Alan Bellows, posted on 01 December 2005. Alan is the founder/designer/head writer/managing editor of Damn Interesting.
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