Huang Chuncai: China’s Elephant Man (Where Is He Now?)


Chinese man Huang Chuncai had the most extreme case of neurofibromatosis ever recorded. His condition was so severe, he was been dubbed “China’s Elephant Man.” With a massive 25 kg tumor that hanged from his face to his waist, his face appeared like it was actually melted.

Sadly, his 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, when he walked, he had to hold his growth.

Where Is Chuncai Now?

China's Elephant Man now

The latest picture of Huang Chuncai (source: Daily Star)

Chuncai has had a total of 4 major surgeries (from 2007 – 2013) to reduce the size of his growths. If you are online searching for an updated article on his progress, you won’t be able to find any information more recent than March of 2017.

The great news is that as of 2017, Daily Star reported Chuncai was becoming accustomed to his appearance, and has also been leading a normal life after his four operations. The sad news is that despite all of Chuncai’s amazing progress, his growths were starting to develop again.

There have been no reports of any future operations. We will continue to check the latest updates.

Read the full story of Huang Chuncai below.

What Is Neurofibromatosis?

elderly woman with neurofibromatosis

The back of an elderly woman with neurofibromatosis.

Neurofibromatosis (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

The 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

participants in freak shows

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 15 kg. The tumor eventually reached a whopping 25 kg. 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

surgical instruments

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 33 lb. tumor that was located on the right side of his face.

Surgery #2

In 2008, an operation was performed to remove a 10 lb. 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 3.3 lbs.

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 25 kg tumor, 21 kg have been removed. He is expected to have 2 more operations in the near future.

Note: This post was updated on March 28, 2019 (originally published on 4/3/16). Based on our research, there is no new information on when or if Chuncai will be getting another surgery.

Perhaps due to the serious risks involved, he decided not to schedule any more surgeries — at least for now. As soon as we get any new information, we will immediately update this article.

Other Extreme Cases Of Neurofibromatosis

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

Reggie Bibbs

Reggie Bibbs


Houston man Reggie Bibbs was born with an extreme case of neurofibromatosis. The disease left him with a deformed leg, an extremely disfigured face and tumors all over his body.

For decades, Bibbs hid from the public in fear of not being accepted. In December 2017, an Uber driver refused to pick him up because of his deformities. Fortunately, after reluctantly accepting an invite to a baseball game, his many years of hiding from the public came to an end.

During an interview with a news station in Houston, Bibbs talked about his unexpected experience. “When I went to the Astros game, it was totally different from what I expected,” said Bibbs. “For 40 years, I hid. I didn’t know that people are really there willing to accept me. I didn’t give them a chance.”

Bibbs believes his disorder has made him a better person. Despite it being difficult to live with every day, he says he wouldn’t change a thing.

Adam Pearson

Adam Pearson

Source: Friday Magazine

Adam Pearson is a British actor who lives with a severe case of neurofibromatosis type I. He has an identical twin brother who does not have the disorder. Throughout Adam’s life, he has been a victim of bullying. Today, he is involved in various outreach programs to help prevent bullying associated with deformities.

dermal neurofibroma

Dermal Neurofibroma” by licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Michel Bur

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

The Latest Video On Chuncai

If you’re interested in this topic, you should go back and read this post on human deformities.

This inspiring story proves that even if you are a man who lives with the most massive tumor ever recorded, things can always get better. 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. He didn’t allow society to hold him back. Thanks to several successful operations over the years, 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.