SOPHIE Hollins is the tallest 12-year-old girl in the world at 6ft 2in – 1.5 feet taller than the average for her age.
The Southampton girl was nearly 6ft by the age of ten and is likely to have been even taller without medical intervention.
There were fears her legs would “literally snap in half”, due to the toll the condition had on her body.
The animal-lover was born with the genetic disorder marfan syndrome. Extreme height and long limbs are two of the defining characteristics, which include chronic heart, eye and joint issues.
With the support of her family, including ten-year-old brother Aaron who is average height at 4ft 7in and dad Ian who is 5ft 10in, Sophie has tolerated people staring and hurtful comments.
Mum Lorraine, from Sholing, who is just 5ft 4in tall, said: “For as long as I can remember I’ve told Sophie ‘people are going to stare’. Everyone does when they see something that stands out.
I know boys at school have called her a giraffe, but that’s okay she loves giraffes.
“Luckily, Sophie understands that’s ignorance speaking. She’s not ashamed of who she is and is growing in confidence every day.”
Sophie was diagnosed with marfan syndrome at eight months old.
By six 4ft 10 in Sophie was the tallest child of her age in Britain.
Two years later she shot up to 5ft 7in. At ten years old – when the average girl measures just over four feet tall – Sophie measured 5ft 11in.
Doctors recommended surgery to destroy the growth plates in her knees and hormone treatment that would put her through rapid puberty.
Dental receptionist Lorraine, 44, said: “Sometimes she’ll complain about her knees hurting which breaks my heart but she’s a tough cookie and rarely complains.
“As the doctors pointed out, this world simply isn’t made for the super tall. From doorways to cars and tables and aeroplanes, it can be so hard.
“She’s been amazing. It’s easier now some of her friends are starting to catch up. I’d say her body is now equivalent to about a 15-16 year old.
“The bane of my existence has been finding her clothes that fit. Her frame has filled out which is great too. Now she’s a size 12-14 and a healthy 12 stone 12 ounces.”
Sophie, a pupil at Oasis Academy Mayfield, added: “I
t’s fun being able to reach things on the higher shelves when my mum can’t, in the kitchen or when we’re shopping. I can’t play any contact sports like netball unfortunately. People do stare, and while I’m used to it I wish they would stop. It’s everywhere – at school, in the street, at Tesco. Sometimes they say stupid things. But I don’t let it get to me.”
WHAT IS MARFAN SYNDROME?
Marfan Syndrome is a genetic disorder of the connective tissue, affecting 1 in every 3,000 people in the UK.
Some are only affected mildly by the condition, while others develop more serious symptoms.
People with the condition are often tall and thin with longer-than-average arms, legs, fingers and toes.
The most serious complications involve the heart and aorta. Other commonly affected areas include the lungs, eyes, bones, and the covering of the spinal cord.
There is no known cure. Marfan Syndrome is inherited from a parent in 75 per cent of cases.
Many cases go undiagnosed until later in life.