China’s Elephant Man (Photo #5)
Huang Chuncai (Chinese: 黃春才) (b. 1977) is a Chinese man who became famous for being “China’s Elephant man”. He is suffering from an extreme case of neurofibromatosis, which caused such large tumours on his face that they had completely distorted his features.
Born in the southern parts of Hunan province, Huang is the eldest of three children. In addition to his parents, his family also consists of his brother, his sister and his nephew. His father earned money by selling noodles in the local market.
Huang’s parents first noticed signs of his illness when he was four years old. He was taken to hospital and was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis. However, the doctors advised against removing the tumors — an operation that Huang’s parents were too poor to afford anyway — because they believed it to be too dangerous.
Huang’s tumor continued to grow, and although he began attending school when he was eight, he eventually left four years later, as he felt alienated by the other children, who called him the elephant man. By the time he was 31, his tumor weighed 15 kg.
Around 2007, he caught the attention of the doctors at the Fuda Cancer Hospital in Guangzhou, who decided to try removing the tumour. His first operation in July 2007 removed a 15 kg (33 lb.) tumour from the right side of his face, and the second one in January 2008 removed another 10 lb. (4.5kg) of tissue from the same side.
A third operation was scheduled for late 2008, which would have removed the tumor on the left side of his face.