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World's tallest woman dies aged 40

Yao Defen reportedly died Nov 13 in her hometown of Zhucheng in eastern China.

Born in 1972, Yao developed gigantism due to a tumour on her pituitary gland. By the age of 15, she stood at over two metres tall. At her peak, she weighed over 200 kg. 

While playing for her school's basketball team, she fainted on court and had to undergo a medical examination.

Yao Defen, world's tallest woman
Yao Defen, world's tallest woman. Photo: AFP

Doctors then discovered the tumour, which was releasing too much growth hormone and causing excessive growth in her bones.

Yao, the world's tallest woman, was 10 cm taller than massive NBC Chinese basketball player Yao Ming.

In 2006, it was removed and Yao finally stopped growing. The tumour returned the following year but her family couldn't afford further surgery, according to the Mail.

A neighbour recalled how on the morning of Yao's death, her widowed mother came running out of the family house.

The woman, named only as Zhang, reportedly said: "It was 9 a.m., just after breakfast, when her mother shouted that the girl was hurt.

"People immediately rushed over to their home. I saw Yao lying on the bed - she wasn't breathing.

"Later, her sister arrived and the doctor soon confirmed her death. Her sad mother cried then fainted."

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