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Myanmar's 'tallest man' undergoes successful surgery

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Win Zaw Oo (C) arrives from Singapore, at Yangon airport on September 26, 2013. At seven foot eight inches (233cm), Win Zaw Oo is believed to be the country's tallest man and arrived in Yangon after undergoing successful brain surgery.AFP

Myanmar's tallest man -- "Big Zaw" -- has returned from Singapore where doctors said he underwent successful brain surgery to remove a tumour responsible for his excessive growth.

Win Zaw Oo, who stands seven feet eight inches tall (233 centimetres) arrived in Yangon on Thursday from the city-state where specialists carried out the life-saving eight-hour operation.

Media reports about "Big Zaw", who is believed to be the tallest man in the former junta-ruled nation, stirred global interest leading to offers to pay for the $55,000 surgery.

"Everything is fine with me now," the 36-year-old, nicknamed 'Big Zaw' told reporters late Thursday.

"There is a of bit problem with one of my eyes. The eyesight is a bit hazy."

Smiling for the cameras at Yangon airport and wearing a custom made shirt and trousers, Win Zaw Oo said he would soon return to his village in Magway region, adding: "I have missed my mother so much."

Doctors said Win Zaw Oo, who left Myanmar last month, should stop growing after the removal of the tumour on his pituitary gland, which was causing his body to produce excessive growth hormones.

Khin Maung Win, a liver specialist who contacted Win Zaw Oo after his condition came to light and offered to pay most of the costs, said the operation was a "100 percent success".

"If he did not have the treatment, he would have grown taller and taller... and he would die. Now he has the chance to live," he said. "Win Zaw Oo is now a normal healthy man."

Win Zaw Oo, who has spent much of his life barefoot because his family was unable to afford special shoes, is significantly taller than the 168cm (five foot six) average Myanmar man.

His case has cast light on the limitations of Myanmar's threadbare healthcare system, which was neglected during decades of army rule.

A new quasi-civilian regime took power in 2011, but medical care remains woefully inadequate.

Official figures show the state only allocated around one percent of its expenditure to healthcare in its 2011 to 2012 budget, rising to three percent in 2012 to 2013.