Huang Chuncai

Huang Chuncai Is “China’s Elephant Man”

Chinese man Huang Chuncai had the most extreme case of neurofibromatosis ever recorded. His condition was so severe, he has been dubbed “China’s Elephant Man.” With a massive 25kg tumor that hanged from his face to his waist, his face appeared like it was actually melted. Sadly, his odd condition prevented him from living a normal life. Chuncai could barely move, eat, or even sleep. As if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, every time he walked around, he had to hold his growth.

What Is Neurofibromatosis?

the back of an elderly woman with neurofibromatosisNeurofibromatosis (NF) is defined as a group of three different types of genetic diseases that can potentially cause the formation of tumors on nerve tissue. Unfortunately, the tumors can cause severe bone and skin abnormalities (as seen in the image above). The three different types of neurofibromatosis are Neurofibromatosis type 1, Neurofibromatosis type 2 and Schwannomatosis.

The above image shows the back of an elderly woman with neurofibromatosis.

A Man With The World’s Largest Facial Tumor

Early Years

Chuncai was born on December 29, 1977, in the southern parts of Hunan province (a province of the People’s Republic of China). At the young age of 4, his parents started to notice signs pointing to some sort of an illness. Eager to find out what was wrong with Chuncai, they took him to a hospital where he was eventually diagnosed with neurofibromatosis.

A Condition That Went Out Of Control

Despite the presence of Chuncai’s large growth, doctors were reluctant to perform surgery. They believed that an operation would too dangerous because due to the large size of the tumor, there was a high chance of heavy bleeding. Unfortunately, even if the doctors were willing to perform an operation, Chuncai’s parents could not afford it.

His tumor continued to grow rapidly. At the age of 8, Chuncai attended school. Not only was his tumor growing at a rapid rate, but it also left Chuncai feeling alienated by children in his school. They would make fun of him and even call him the “elephant man.” At the age of 10, all of the bullying by his classmates drove him to quit attending school.

Chuncai Is Offered Money To Perform As A Circus Freak

dwarf clown

Dwarf Clown” by Carlos O. Sabugal is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Due to Chuncai’s bizarre condition, his parents were offered money if he was willing to pursue a career in circus freak-shows. However, unlike many others who were given the opportunity to perform in sideshows, Chuncai was not interested. Instead, he was humiliated by the offer, and considered committing suicide. All he wanted was to live a normal life.

A Series Of Lifesaving Surgeries

At the age of 25, Chuncai’s lost his teeth. His tumor had gotten so massive, his left eye was hidden. At the age of 31, Chuncai’s tumor weighed 15kg. The tumor eventually reached a whopping 25kg. Sadly, the pressure of the tumor on his spine stunted his growth, making him only 4 feet tall. The pressure also gave him a hunchback.

Finally, in 2007, doctors at the Fuda Cancer Hospital in Guangzhou decided it was time to remove the massive tumors.

Chuncai’s Four Facial Surgeries

a team of surgeons Thanks to the help of the Chinese Government, Chuncai was able to get facial surgery.

Surgery #1

Chuncai’s first operation took place in July of 2007. A team of surgeons removed a 33lb. tumor that was located on the right side of his face.

Surgery #2

In 2008, an operation was performed to remove a 10lb. growth also located on the right side of his face.

Surgery #3

Chuncai’s third operation took place in late 2008. The tumor on the left side of his face was removed.

Surgery #4

Finally, on Christmas day in 2013, yet another tumor was removed from his face. The size of the tissue was 3.3lbs.

The Results Of Chuncai’s 4 Surgeries

To say the least, Chuncai’s surgeries were a success. Today, he is much happier. Chuncai’s tumor now weighs just 7 pounds. His lighter face makes it much easier for him to eat. Chuncai now has plans to earn money working in his family by selling noodles in the local market.

Amazingly, of Chuncai’s 25kg tumor, 21kg have been removed. He is expected to have two more operations in the near future.

Other Extreme Cases Of Neurofibromatosis

Below are some pictures of other extreme cases of neurofibromatosis. However, although each are severe, it is quite obvious that neither of these three cases are as severe as Chuncai’s condition.

dermal neurofibroma

Dermal Neurofibroma” by is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

neurofibroma of the skin

Neurofibroma” by Klaus D. Peter is licensed under CC BY 3.0 DE

Michel Bur

Michel Bur” by Friedrich Daniel von Recklinghausen is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

This inspiring story proves that even if you are a man with the most massive tumor ever recorded, there is always hope. Although Chuncai’s tumor had earned him the nickname “China’s Elephant man,” he was determined to do whatever was necessary to improve the quality of his life. Thanks to the amazing work of great surgeons, Huang Chuncai is finally on his way to living a normal life.

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About Joseph Caltabiano

Joseph Caltabiano is a blogger, oddities lover and a former surgical technologist. He left the field of surgical technology to pursue a career in blogging and internet marketing. As clearly shown in his posts, Joseph is very passionate about unusual topics. His two most favorite topics are medical and weird science.