BEIJING – Huang Chuncai was born with an extreme case of neurofibromatosis, leading to his nickname “Chinese Elephant Man”. Do not read if you are squeamish.
Neurofibromatosis is a genetic disorder that can cause abnormal growth of neural cell tissue, leading to physical deformity. Chuncai’s case is extreme. By 2007, 50 pounds of tumor tissue has grown on his face, causing the lower half of his face to droop down to his chest. His lefteye is completely covered and his spine has curved due to the extra weight.
In July 2007, he underwent surgery to have 33lb of tumor tissue removed from his face. A second operation in 2008 removed another 10lb. An interview with Chuncai just before the surgery can be seen below:
Doctors have admitted it is impossible that Chuncai will ever look “normal”, due to permanent disfigurement of his facial bone structure. But they believe he will be able to have a less challenging life.