The Shortest Person in the World
Not so long ago, He Pingping of China, at 73 cm, (the size of your average six month old baby), was officially the shortest person in the world, however Pingping died in March 2010 at age twenty-one, from complications due to the condition that caused his exceptionlly short stature.
Pingping, who was from the northern Chinese region of Inner Mongolia, suffered from an extreme case of primordial dwarfism, caused by a mutnt gene carried by both parents and which begins to have an effect on the sufferer while they are still developing in the womb. There are approximately 200 different types of dwarfism and five subtypes of primordial dwarfism, and although it's estimated there are appoximately 100,000 to 500,000 sufferers in the US, the most severe type is believed to only affect about one hundred individuals worldwide, so it is extremely rare. Tragically, few people with primordial dwarfism live past the age of thirty as the condition causes a number of serious health problems.
A Big Personality
What Pingping lacked in height, he is said to have made up for with his 'big' personality, which according to those that knew him was 'cheeky and mischievous'. It can't have been easy to be so tiny in a world designed for big people but Pingping managed to retain a sense of humour that helped him cope with the hand he had been dealt.
In his short life, Pingping travellled the world and made many friends and acquaintances aliogn the way. According to Craig Glenday, editor of the Guinness World Records:
For such a small man, he made a huge impact around the world. From the moment I laid on eyes on him, I knew he was someone special - he had such a cheeky smile and mischievous personality, you couldn't help but be charmed by him. He brightened up the lives of everyone he met, and was an inspiration to anyone considered different or unusual.
Khagendra Thapa Magar
With Pingping's death the new pretender to the 'shortest man' tilte is the diminutive Khagendra Thapa Magar, 19, from Nepal, who is reportedly 0.67 m (2 ft 2 1⁄2 in) high. Magar suffers from the same condition as Pingping - primordial dwarfism - and seems to have a similar, bright personality. According to his mother, Dhana Maya
Thapa Magar: "He was born weighing only 600 grams (1lb 5oz)...It was like watching a
newly hatched chick fresh from a shell."
A Life Worth Living
The world's shortest man is from the Baglung district,125 miles from Nepal and is a devout Buddhist, accepting his lot with remarkably cheerful resignation and not complaint. Magar sees himself as a 'unique individual' and also travels the world, among other things, spending much of his time raising the level of awareness about sex trafficking and collecting dontions for his own foundation, which supports the disabled and orphaned in Nepal.
While his fame spread first across Nepal and into India, it has now grown beyond that, ias his travels brought him into contact with the West. During a recent trip to Australia, the car in which he was travelling was pulled over by a policeman, who demanded to know why he sn't in a child booster seat.
Magar is also a keen dancer and is grateful that the fame brought by his short stature has enabled him to move around the globe meeting people from all walks of life:
"I can show off my dancing moves and I can show people how good I am at karate."