It’s probably no surprise that the world’s tallest man, as adjudicated by Guinness World Records in 2009, also holds the record for the world’s largest feet and hands. More surprising to Sultan Kosen is that those feet got to walk him down the aisle, and those hands got to take his bride’s (much smaller) hands in marriage on Sunday. For Kosen, who battled gigantism and acromegaly since birth, finding love was never easy.
“I cannot describe my feelings in words,” the Agence France-Press quoted the 8-foot-3-inch groom as saying during the wedding celebration in his hometown of Mardin. “I am the happiest man in the world.”
Now that Kosen has tied the knot, a more haunting question remains: given the notoriously short life spans of giants, should Kosen’s wife, Merve Dibo (who stands a comparatively puny 5-foot-9-inches), worry about her husband’s health?
Kosen, 30, was born with a benign tumor on his pituitary gland that, until last year, produced a surplus of human growth hormone that caused him to reach his astonishing height. He has both gigantism and acromegaly, two related conditions that begin at different stages in a person’s life. Gigantism occurs most often in childhood or adolescence, while acromegaly typically arises in middle age. Diagnosing acromegaly early on can be difficult, given its slow progression and the time it takes for the characteristic hard jaw lines and jutting forehead to emerge.
In 2010, Kosen travelled from Turkey to the University of Virginia Medical Center to follow up on a partial tumor removal he received in his home country. Excess growth hormone release can lead to a raft of health problems, according to UVA researcher Dr. Jason Sheehan. These include “soft tissue hypertrophy, attendant weakening of the heart, diabetes, hypertension, colorectal cancer, and kidney dysfunction.”
“However, Mr. Kosen’s intervention at UVA was successful,” Sheehan said. “Thus, he is healthier than he has been in quite some time.”
In the procedure, Sheehan used a tool known as a Gamma Knife that non-invasively targeted the tumor using precise beams of radiation. The procedure went off without a hitch — save for the too-small hospital beds Kosen was subjected to. Nurses accommodated their patient’s height by pushing two regular sized beds together.
Kosen says the marriage has been a long time coming: over the years, he grew anxious that his height would be his romantic demise, because, as he says, “women are usually scared of me.” Fortunately, when Kosen and Dibo met a mere two months ago, after two years of his record-breaking height pushing him into the spotlight, his height managed to stay in the background.
“At first everyone around me told me not to marry him because of his height,” Dibo told Guinness World Records, “but I fell in love with his heart, not his height. His height doesn't bother me at all.”
“I wish him well with his marriage,” Sheehan added.