Woman talks about controversial operation to lengthen her limbs. Critics say she sets a bad example for people suffering from dwarfism.
They claim that instead of encouraging people to love their bodies, her case pushes people to opt for risky surgeries and life-long disablement for the sake of a few inches.
UNITED STATES - She was born with a rare form of dwarfism, diastrophic dysplasia, which meant her torso was a normal size but her arms and legs were abnormally short.
This condition made simple, everyday tasks like getting something off a grocery shelf near impossible for Ms Tiffanie DiDonato.
But since undergoing excruciating surgery to add 35 cm to her height, the Massachusetts woman said she has everything she has ever wished for.
The gutsy 32-year-old has opened up about her extraordinary experience in a new book, reported The Daily Mail.
She had her first limb-lengthening surgery when she was eight. Doctors intentionally broke her bones, forcing them to re-grow longer.
In an interview with ABC News, DiDonato said she knew the risks and rewards that were involved but was adamant that being taller meant being happier.
Ms DiDonato gained 10cm in height after the initial operation. But it wasn't easy.
'Hurt so much'
"When I woke up, when it hurt so much, you freeze it, almost like if you scream it is going to hurt worse," she told ABC News.
"All you can do is kind of let the tears fall and deal with it and suck it up and let it ride." At 15, she decided to have the surgery again.
Disregarding the recommended maximum of 10 cm, she and her doctor decided not to put a limit on her growth and her mother supported the controversial decision.
"It was all about independence," said Mrs Robin DiDonato.
Painful road to independence
"It was doing things on her own, brushing her own hair. My biggest fear was her being dependent on others for her care because, let's face it, Gerry and I won't be around forever."
But her father, Mr Gerry DiDonato, said it was torture watching his daughter suffer as her bones were stretched.
"It was very nerve-racking," he told the TV station.
"She would cry it out. It was tough... it's horrible."
After her second surgery, Ms DiDonato gained an unprecedented 25 cm of additional height. She now stands at 1.47m.
During the painful ordeal, Ms DiDonato kept a journal which she said helped her get through it all. Her notes have been turned into a memoir titled "Dwarf".
"I was honest with myself, if I wanted to die, if I felt like that's what I wanted to do, then I wrote it down," she told ABC.
"If you go through a struggle, if you know what sacrifice is, and you have felt a little pain, it makes you that much braver. It makes you a little bit more aware."
She is now married to Mr Eric Gabrielse, a Marine who towers above her at nearly 1.8m.
The couple recently had a son.
"She's so powerful and strong," Mr Gabrielse said of his wife.
Get The New Paper for more stories.