To the casual observer, Zeng Yushan looks like an ordinary little girl. She lives in Huzhu, in China”s Sichuan Province, and she looks like she probably attends first or second grade. However, that”s not the case at all.
In reality, Zeng lives with a pituitary condition that stunts both her physical and mental growth. So while she looks and functions at about the age of six, she”s actually 19 years old. She”s certainly had it rough. When she was diagnosed with the condition and told of the expensive medical treatments that would ensue, her parents divorced, leaving Zeng in the care of her father, Yul Wei.
With no money and Zeng”s condition untreated, the father and daughter were forced to beg on the streets. As if that weren”t tragic enough, Yul Wei had his own health issues, dying in 2013 of gastric cancer. This left Zeng completely on her own.
Luckily for Zeng, a kind couple took her in. When they first found her, she had lost most of her hair, a side effect of her condition. The couple also didn”t know her sex, let alone her real age. They soon found out, though, and have been providing her with medical treatments ever since.
However, the couple is also planning for the future. Guo Liu, Zeng”s adopted father, says that he and his wife are looking to find her not only medical help, but also educational assistance so that she will be able to have a good life once the couple is no longer able to care for her.
In the past, pituitary conditions like Zeng”s, which are uncommon, were treated using the functional pituitary glands from cadavers. However, there are now artificial growth hormones like the ones Zeng takes, which are injected daily. The artificial hormones have stabilized her somewhat, and her hair has grown back, but it”s unclear how much she will be able to really grow.
Ashley Grossman, a professor of endocrinology at Oxford University, says that Zeng”s ultimate growth potential is based on her bone age. If her bones have reached an age of about 14, they will have fused into their permanent positions and sizes, and she”ll remain at her small stature. If this is not the case, she may be able to grow, at least a little.
(via Oddity Central)
Pituitary issues, since they”re relatively uncommon, are hard to treat in China unless the patients can pay directly for those treatments. Even though she”s gone nearly 20 years without treatment, doctors say that Zeng”s case is worth exploring. In the meantime, Zeng”s adoptive family will try to get her into an educational program.