World's tallest man struggles to fit in
Leonid stadnik's phenomenal height has forced him to quit a job he loved and to stoop as he moves around his house.But Stadnik, who Guinness World Records says is the world's tallest human, says his condition has also taught him that there are many kindhearted strangers.Since his recognition by Ukrainian record keepers four years ago, and by Guinness last year, people from all over Ukraine and the world have sent him outsized clothing, provided his home with running water and recently presented him with a giant bicycle. And on Monday, he got a new car, courtesy of President Viktor Yushchenko."Thanks to good people I have shoes and clothes," said the 37-year-old former veterinarian, who still lives with his 66-year-old mother.In 2006, Stadnik was officially measured at 8 feet 5 inches tall, surpassing a 7-foot-9-inch Chinese man to claim the title of the world's tallest person.His growth spurt began at age 14 after a brain operation that apparently stimulated the overproduction of growth hormone. Doctors say he has been growing ever since.While his size is intimidating, Stadnik charms visitors with a broad grin and childlike laugh. He seems at times like a lonely boy trapped in a giant's body, even keeping stuffed toys on his pillow.Stadnik's stature has brought attention, but he struggles to lead a normal life.All the doorways in his one-story brick house are too short for him to pass through without stooping. His 440 pounds cause constant knee pain and often force him to use crutches.
Stadnik loves animals, but had to quit his job as a veterinarian at a cattle farm after suffering frostbite when he walked to work in his socks in winter. He could not afford custom made shoes for his 17-inch feet.But his fame has taught him not to despair.A German who said he was his distant relative asked Stadnik for a visit several years ago. On the trip, Stadnik got to sample frog legs in an elegant restaurant and saw a roller coaster at an amusement park — both for the first time.
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