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Friday 24 November 2017

'It felt like I was in prison' - 7ft 4in Shaun gets specially developed wheelchair after 4 years in bed

Shaun Aisbitt from Greystones who is 7ft 4 inches tall.
Shaun Aisbitt from Greystones who is 7ft 4 inches tall.

Ryan Nugent

AFTER being bed-bound for four years with chronic back injuries, Ireland's tallest man can finally live a fuller life with the help of a specially developed wheelchair.

At a little over 7ft 4in tall and with a size 22 shoe, Shaun Aisbitt (54) has been Ireland's tallest man for more than 30 years. However, the wear and tear on his limbs means he hasn't been able to walk for a number of years.

Shaun, from Greystones, was the country's tallest man from the age of 21 but wasn't diagnosed with the condition known as gigantism until he was about 39.

Shaun told the Herald he felt like he was living in a prison cell for four years when it looked like he'd never be able to see the outside world again.

His back injuries were so severe that when he did try to sit up for a short period of time, he would pass out with the pain. "I had terrible pain in my back and couldn't sit up because the discs were pressing in hard against each other," Shaun said.

"The membrane between the discs wears out very quickly."

The problems, which Shaun never envisaged going away, meant he was literally left in one room for four years, without anything to do other than use his laptop or do jigsaw puzzles.

"It was very lonely, in a room with four walls, looking out all the time. In a way it felt like I was locked in a prison," he said.

However, after talks with specialists, Shaun, who is originally from Ballybough, has been able to move about since January.

"They put a special sort of balloon at the back of my chair which gives great support to my spine, so I've gone from being a total hermit to being able to socialise again," he said.

"It's lovely, the newness of it all. Exploring town again is just fantastic."

However, there are still a number of difficulties. He has lost all feeling in his left leg due to severe wear and tear and finding somewhere to produce his shoe size is virtually impossible.

"At 14 a doctor told me that because I was going to grow much taller I wouldn't see 50.

"Things wear out a lot quicker, the heart is under strain, the stomach, the lungs, everything is working harder until eventually it all packs in, so most tall people never live to see the age of 50," he said.


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