Editors' Choice

Woman Endures Painful, Controversial Surgeries To Grow Taller

Diana Rolland / November 29, 2016

Dwarfism, a condition identified by short stature, but not limited to, shorter than average arms and legs, and a larger, disproportionate cranium. Dwarfism can be caused by over 300 medical conditions, and aside from the physical anomalies, a person affected by dwarfism does not necessarily see a difference in intelligence nor lifespan. When an adult has a height of less than 4ft 10 inches, they can be classified as having some form of the condition.


In the video posted to ABC News’ YouTube channel on December 1st, 2012, we get to meet Tiffanie DiDonato, a young woman who has had one hell of a rough life. Tiffanie is a wonderful soul who was born with dwarfism and decided to share her story in this video and her memoir which is aptly titled, “Dwarf.”



image via: hamiltonbook


Tiffanie spent her early years undergoing a series of painful and controversial surgeries where doctors repeatedly broke her arms and legs, holding the pieces together with rods and braces in an attempt to give her longer limbs. When the bones were broken, the bones were set with rods, leaving a small gap to allow new bone to fill the empty space. Once the bone had healed, the process was started all over again.



Her parents, Robin and Gerry, left the decision to undergo the surgeries up to Tiffanie, all in the hopes that she would gain some much needed independence. Her first surgery was at the tender age of 8 where her legs and arms were operated on simultaneously, netting her a growth of almost 4 inches in her legs alone. To get through the tough times, Tiffany kept a journal where she documented everything from what the doctors were doing, to how her physical recovery was progressing, and even how she was feeling mentally. The diary would later become the basis for her memoir.




The video also takes a moment to talk about another person suffering from dwarfism who also underwent the procedure. His name is Reza Garakani, but unlike DiDonato, Garakani did not undertake the journey on his own accord. He was pushed into enduring the surgeries by his father, but also unlike Tiffanie, he was left paralyzed due to complications. “For a few inches, I didn’t want to damage my life,” he said. “I was happy with who I am. I would’ve rather been 3 feet tall than a couple inches taller and left with all the complications.”  




After all was said and done, Tiffanie found herself 1 foot and 2 inches taller. She’s now married to a nearly 6ft tall marine named Eric Gabrielse, and together they have a son named Titan. She’s even able to drive a car and household chores are now easier than they would have been had she lived her whole adult life at 3ft 6 inches.


What do you think of the surgery and the recovery process? Would you push your child into something like this the way that Reza’s father did? Or would you leave the decision up to your child?