A girl from Huzhu, Sichuan Province, China, doesn’t look like the typical 20-year-old adult. A rare medical condition caused Zeng Yushan to stop growing after she turned 7.
Doctors discovered that a certain tumor grew on the woman’s pituitary gland, preventing her hormones to grow. The rare condition could have been treated, but because her parents could not afford the medical fees, Zeng was forced to live differently from people her age. To make things worse, Zeng’s parents eventually got separated, and she was left in the care of her father, Yul Wei.
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Life with her father was tough too. After the divorce, Yul Wei himself was diagnosed with a fatal disease. To feed themselves, Zeng and Yul resorted to panhandling. They had to travel miles and miles from home, hoping that the uncommon appearance of Zeng would convince people to give them some money.
In 2013, Zeng was left totally alone after her father died of gastric cancer. She took care of herself until one couple saw her and decided to take her in.
Guo Liu could not determine whether Zeng was a girl or a boy at first because she was bald at the time and looked rugged. They later found out that although she looked like a 6-year-old, her actual age was thrice as that. Shocked and disheartened by the young woman’s situation, the kind couple made sure that Zeng received the medical attention she needed.
Guo Liu and his wife took Zeng to a Beijing-based doctor whom they believed would best help her. Zeng found a new home in them, but Guo wanted to make sure that she would be able to get by on her own when there would be no one left to look after her.
To be able to go to school was Zeng’s biggest wish, but it might be a bit difficult for her since many schools refused to accept her because of her appearance and her actual age.
Oxford University’s professor of endocrinology, Ashley Grossman, said that Zeng would have had it better if she were in America. The doctors in the USA would be extra attentive on her case since pituitary tumor in children is not very common in the country.
Statistics have it that only one in every 1,000 people develops the condition and it’s usually caused by a gene defect, but it mostly affects adults and rarely attacks children.
Before, patients suffering from a pituitary tumor were treated using the pituitary glands of dead people, but some complications were found out later on, so the said method was abolished. Good thing, artificial growth hormones are easily available nowadays. But still, Zeng’s fate remains undecided.
Professor Grossman explained, “Whether anything can be done for her now is unclear. It depends on her bone age. I assume she didn’t go through puberty so she didn’t make sex hormones. In that case her bones will have fused. If the bones have an age of eight or nine, she could respond to treatment, if she has bones that have an age of 14, she probably won’t grow anymore.”
The professor shared that the operation Zeng had to undergo is available in China, but patients have to pay a whopping amount before they can have it, that’s why most Chinese patients are left untreated. Professor Grossman, though, insists that they try it on Zeng because he has high hopes that it would help the ill woman.