The Tragic Life Of Adam Rainer: The Little Person Who Became A Giant

Adam Rainer is the only person on record to have both been a little person and a giant during his lifetime. Those who have dwarfism, as defined by the Mayo Clinic, are short in stature, with a height of 4 feet, 10 inches or under by the time they are in their adult years. In most cases, dwarfism is the result of a genetic disorder, and couples who are of average height may have a child with dwarfism if a genetic mutation occurs.

Adam Rainer was born in 1899 in Graz, Austria. His parents were of average height. During World War I, Rainer enlisted in the army when he was 18 years old, but he was turned down due to his small stature of 4 feet, 6 inches, and lack of strength. According to Business Insider, he tried again the following year. He grew 2 inches, but it wasn't enough to be accepted into the army. Standing 4 feet, 8 inches at 19 years old, Rainer's medical records showed that he was classified as a little person. Furthermore, he was skinny and frail.

Adam Rainer had big hands and feet

The common symptoms of dwarfism include short arms and legs, small or average-sized hands and feet, and a large head disproportionate to the body, just to name a few (via Mayo Clinic). Adam Rainer's case, however, was different. Despite being diagnosed with dwarfism, the medical records from his attempts of enlisting in the army noted that he had big hands and feet for a person of his short stature, which is unusual for those with dwarfism.

According to History of Yesterday, Rainer's shoes were a size 10 when he first enlisted, and his hands measured 9.4 inches. What's more interesting is that the following year when he attempted to enlist again, his shoe size was recorded to be size 20. When Rainer turned 21 years old, however, everything changed, and he started growing at an alarming rate. Per Healthline, boys hit the peak of their height at 16 years old and still grow a little until the age of 21. It was the opposite for Rainer, who began growing significantly at 21 years old.

He was diagnosed with acromegaly

From 4 feet 8 inches, Adam Rainer grew 2 inches more to 4 feet 10 inches. However from 21 to 31 years old, his height significantly grew to a little over 7 feet, as reported by Ripley's, and his spine developed a curvature. Doctors examined him and conducted tests to find out the cause of his sudden growth, and he was diagnosed with a medical condition known as acromegaly when he was in his early 30s.

According to Rare Diseases, acromegaly is an acquired disorder that happens when a person's pituitary gland produces an excess of growth hormones, which results in the growth of bones and tissues over time. One of the leading causes of acromegaly is the growth of a tumor on the pituitary gland. Symptoms of acromegaly include enlarged hands, feet, and head, enlargement of facial bones, and thickening of tissues. Reports indicate that acromegaly occurs after puberty and affects about 50 to 70 people out of a million. However, since its symptoms manifest gradually, many of those with the disorder remain undiagnosed until the later stages.

Adam Rainer's tumor was removed

It turned out that Adam Rainer did have a tumor growing on his pituitary gland. As a result, his features changed throughout the years. Apart from his increase in height and large hands and feet, the shape of his face became elongated and his lips became thicker, as reported by History of Yesterday. If left untreated, acromegaly can lead to a number of health issues, such as osteoarthritis, spinal cord fractures, vision loss, and heart enlargement, to name a few (via Mayo Clinic).

Rainer's tumor had been growing for a decade when he was diagnosed and undergoing surgery to remove it was a considerable risk. In addition, the chance of success was slim, but Rainer pushed forward with the operation anyway. The doctors were able to successfully remove the tumor. However, more tests had to be done afterward to see whether the surgery had the desired results.

He continued to grow up until his death

Months after the surgery, Adam Rainer was examined by his doctors, and it was determined that his standing height didn't increase after surgery. However, the curve of his spine became more severe, which meant that he was still growing, but it was happening at a slower rate than before, as reported by Business Insider. Rainer's health declined afterward. He lost vision in his right eye, he lost his hearing, and his spinal curvature got so bad that he was no longer able to stand.

Rainer spent the final years of his life admitted to a home for care and confined to his bed. He died due to complications of his condition on March 4, 1950, at 51 years old. Reports of his height at the time of his death vary. Some indicate that he was 7 feet 8 inches tall, while others noted that he was 7 feet 10 inches tall. To this day, Adam Rainer is the only person recorded to have experienced being both a little person and a giant.