29-year-old Sulemana Abdul Samed in northern Ghana recently learned he was 2.89 meters or 9ft 6in tall during his checkup in a local hospital.
Sulemana was diagnosed with gigantism some time back and had his routine appointment due to complications related to gigantism.
This would make him the tallest man in the world, but there was a catch – the rural clinic could not be sure of his height because it did not have the correct measuring tools.
Diagnosed with gigantism a few years ago, the young man was attending a monthly appointment to deal with the complications of living as a giant when he was asked to stand straight against a measuring rod.
A shocked nurse told him: “You’ve grown taller than the scale.”
Better known to everyone by his nickname Awuche, which means “Let’s Go” in Hausa, he was bemused by the spectacle he was causing.
He was not surprised to hear he was taller, given he has never stopped growing – but it caused consternation for the staff, who were not prepared for such a scenario.
The duty nurse called out to her colleague, who in turn called out to another for help. Before long a group of nurses and health assistants gathered to solve the puzzle of determining his height.
One suggested they find a pole and use it as an extension above their stick to measure his height – and this is how they arrived at their estimate.
This increase in height started to become noticeable when he was 22 years old and living in the capital, Accra.
He began to tower over everyone – and he sought medical help as the growth brought other complications.
He has been left with an abnormally curved spine, one of the prominent symptoms of his condition, Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder affecting the body’s connective tissues.
It results in abnormally long limbs. More serious complications involve heart defects.
Doctors say he needs a surgical procedure in his brain to stop the growth. His health problems eventually forced him to return to his home village six years ago and give up his dreams of becoming a driver.
“I was planning to go to driving school, but even when I shift the seat back, I can’t hold the steering wheel… I can’t stretch my leg because my knee will knock the wheel,” said Awuche.
He is now living with his brother – and gets by after setting up a small business selling mobile phone credits.
His height has also curtailed his social life.
“I used to play football like every other young man, I was athletic but now I cannot even walk short distances,” he explained.
He is a bit of a local celebrity as some people want to take selfies with him – even strangers come up to ask if he is the giant they have seen on social media.
He would love to get married and have children one day but wants to first concentrate on sorting out his health and his first priority is to try and raise money for plastic surgery to deal with a serious skin complaint on one leg, ankle and foot caused by the excess growth of the limb.