When it comes to medical anomalies, modern medicine has had no shortage of mysterious diseases and abnormalities to examine, and the case of Adam Rainer – the only known dwarf giant – was one for the record books. Born in Austria in 1899, Rainer lived the first 20 years of his life as a dwarf, standing at barely 4'8" tall. Then, as if a switch were flipped somewhere in his body, Rainer began to grow taller at an alarming rate, reaching upwards of 7'8" tall by the time he was 30.
His confounding growth spurt gained him immediate attention in the medical community, particularly considering the fact that his stature had earned him the classification of being both a dwarf and a giant. Rainer became something of a medical mystery for a time, with doctors both puzzled and concerned by his rapid growth, enlarged hands and feet, and rapidly deteriorating health. The ultimate cause of his rapid reformation was attributed to a strategically placed tumor that wreaked havoc on his body for the rest of his short life.
Adam Rainer's developmental struggles began early in his life. Despite the fact that his parents and brother were considered to be within the normal height and weight range of the time, Rainer had barely reached a height of 4'8" by the time he was 19. What was even more curious was the fact that, considering his small stature, his hands and feet were deemed unusually large – in fact, in his late teens he wore a size US 10 shoe, and, within three years, his shoe size had doubled to a size US 20, despite the fact that he hadn't grown any taller.
Then, as if over night, Rainer began to grow taller. Between the ages of 21 and 30, Rainer grew nearly three feet, reaching a height of 7'1" before his growth rate slowed to a more reasonable pace. By the end of his life at only 50 years old, Rainer was said to be nearly 7'10" tall.
As soon as Rainer gained more than a few inches seemingly out of nowhere, doctors began to take notice. After numerous tests and observations of his condition, the only answer that doctors could arrive at was that his rapid growth was due to a large tumor that had been growing from early childhood on Rainer's pituitary gland, causing his hormones to go haywire and leading to a severe case of acromegaly.
This along with his other increasingly complex health issues – including a dramatic curvature that was developing in his spine – further convinced doctors that the tumor was to blame and that any hope of saving Rainer from developing additional health issues would require that it be uurgically removed. Despite the risks associated with the procedure and Rainer's failing health, doctors decided to operate.
After recovering from the procedure, Rainer was again measured, and, though he did not grow any taller, the curvature in his back had become more defined – proving that he was in fact continuing to grow, though at a lesser rate.
This continued on for the rest of his life, bringing with it additional health issues that are typically associated with acromegaly such as partial blindness, hearing loss, and extreme joint paint. Toward the end of his life, his condition and spinal deformation had become so severe that he was unable to move around comfortably and remained bedridden until his death in 1950 at the age of 50 – and a height of nearly 7'10".