Mandy Sellars

Mandy Sellars: The Woman With Gigantic Legs


This is an article on the extraordinary story of Mandy Sellars (born February 20, 1975). Sadly, a PIK3CA genetic mutation has caused massive overgrowth of her skin, bones, fat and tissue in the lower half of her body. Interestingly, this particular gene mutation is not just rare. Scientists say it is actually unique. Sellars is the only known person in the world living with the condition.

Does Sellars Have A Condition Similar To The “Elephant Man?”

A Study in Human Dignity

Today, there are some online sources that say Sellars was diagnosed with a rare form of a congenital disorder called Proteus syndrome. This type of disorder is what clinical experts believe Joseph Merrick, the “Elephant Man” likely suffered with. The condition typically causes asymmetric tissue overgrowth. The syndrome is so rare, there are only 120 known cases worldwide.

Doctors Had No Clue What Sellars’ Condition Actually Was

Although it was believed that Sellars was suffering from Proteus syndrome, it was obvious that her condition was quite different from the syndrome that many believe Joseph Merrick had.

In 2012, scientists at Cambridge University mapped Sellars’ DNA. The results revealed what not only shocked the team of scientists, but also Miss Sellars. Although she was convinced that she was living with a rare form of Proteus Syndrome, doctors now think her bizarre disorder is the cause of a single letter mutation in the PIK3CA gene. They also believe Sellars is the first person ever diagnosed with this mutation, which has been causing her legs and feet to grow to such a gigantic size.

Today, Sellars likes to say she has “Sellars Syndrome.”

The PIK3CA Gene

PIK3CA gene

A Life Filled With Fear, Pain, And Uncertainty 

At birth, Sellars had a pair of legs that were five times larger than the average newborn. This concerned doctors to the point that they actually believed she wouldn’t live for more than a few weeks. At the very least, they had absolutely no hope that she would ever be able to walk.

However, at 18 months, Sellars started walking. Regardless of her shocking the doctors with her ability to walk with enormous legs, at age 7, doctors recommended the amputation of both of her legs. Luckily for Sellars, her mother June did not agree to go forward with the surgery.

Despite having to live with an unfortunate condition that kept getting worse, at the age of 19, Sellars was able to live on her own. She was also able to obtain a B.Sc. in psychology from the University of Central Lancashire. At this point in her life, she was overcoming the improbable. All of her tough challenges didn’t prevent her from living a life without the need of a caregiver.

Sellers’ legs grew to 238 pounds, making her legs and feet 3 times larger than her upper body.

Sellers Makes An Appearance On A TV Documentary Series 

In 2008, Sellars appeared on a television documentary series called Extraordinary People. The episode was titled “The Woman with Giant Legs.” They paid for her trip from The United Kingdom to the United States to see orthopedic surgeon Dr. William Ertl. She was also sent to pay a visit to Irish prosthetist Kevin Carroll. After getting a good look at Sellars, they concluded that the amputation should eventually take place. However, not like her doctors had recommended. They believed the amputation of both legs could be less extreme.

Despite recommendations from various doctors, Sellars did not have both of her legs amputated.

Sadly, Sellars Needed A Leg Amputated

Despite escaping a risky surgical procedure for the amputation of both of her legs, in 2010, Sellars developed a life-threatening infection in her left leg. Unfortunately, the infection called septicaemia left her with no other option than above-the-knee amputation.

The Sudden Regrowth Of An Amputated Leg

What you are about to hear is something you are see in the movies. Just months after Sellars’ operation, doctors got the surprise of their life. While being measured for a prosthetic leg, it was quite clear that the amputated leg was growing back. This left Sellars feeling hopeless.

Within a couple of years, Sellars’ amputated leg grew to a circumference of one meter. This likely made the entire operation seem worthless. At this point, all Sellars could do is hope for a miracle.

A Story With A Happy Ending: The Trial Drug That Helped Shrink Sellars’ Limbs 

trial drug

In desperate need to find something that could help shrink her legs, Sellars’ big day finally came. For the first time in her life, she was offered a trial drug. Fortunately, after just five months of taking it, Sellars lost 14 pounds. Amazingly, her legs did not stop shrinking. After just two years of taking a pioneering drug, Sellars lost an unbelievable 84 pounds from her legs!

Although doctors are uncertain whether Sellars’s legs will continue to shrink, she is very optimistic. Regardless, the shrinking has already helped her move around her home easier.

How Does Sellars Get From Place To Place?

In addition to needing her shoes and clothing specially made, Sellars also drives a specially modified hand-controlled vehicle. With such an enormous pair of legs, one might wonder how she manages to get around. To get from place to place, Sellars will use a wheelchair or crutches.

More Images Of Sellars And Her Unique Condition

Since birth, Sellars was forced to live with incredibly large legs and feet. Doctors didn’t think she would live to see her first birthday. Amazingly, she shocked the world for not only living a life much longer than expected, but also for the sudden regrowth of her amputated left limb.

Thanks to determined scientists, and some of the most sophisticated medical technology around, Sellars can now live a much better life. Not only does she now know her particular diagnosis, but due to the drugs that made her legs shrink, she can also move around better. Perhaps, Mandy Sellars is the only person in the world to ever live with this bizarre condition.

This entry was posted in Human Abnormalities on by .

About Joseph Caltabiano

Joseph Caltabiano is a writer, 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.