Growing up, Malcolm Sutherland’s mum was told he wouldn’t live past the age of 30.
At 2.08m (or six feet 10 inches on the old scale), the teenager was given medication to stop him from growing after he was diagnosed with acromegaly, a condition that results from excess growth hormone after the growth plates have closed.
She was told he wouldn’t live long due to the extra stress placed on his enlarged organs.
“I took pills to stop growing when I was 14,” Mr Sutherland said.
“I was six foot ten (inches). I was the tallest in the school. I was the tallest in the district.
“It was said I would die by the time I was 21 because I grew too fast for my heart.
“I always had the belief, because I had acromegaly there wasn’t any option what would happen or what I could do about it.”
However the now 63 year old, known affectionately as “Big Mal”, had the shock of his life this year when his endocrinologist told him that his body had cured itself of the condition without any medical intervention.
He said the specialist told him he was his oldest patient who had been diagnosed with acromegaly.
“The good news is after having acromegaly all my life and taking pills to stop growing when I was 14, I don’t have it anymore,” Mr Sutherland said.
“I felt numb, unbelieving, in shock. It’s taken me a while to come to terms with it. “Now I’ll just die from something. It won’t be for any special reason,” he laughed.
“I know the body can heal broken bones and scratches but the body can’t heal cancers and things like that. I’ve had this condition for my whole life and my body has cured itself.
“I’m very happy. Is is it something beyond my knowledge or is it a miracle?
“I ran into people today who said ‘I didn’t think you’d still be around’.
“It was known that I would die young.”
He said a heart operation in 2007 took more than 18 hours to complete with his unique size pushing the surgeons to think outside the square.
I know the body can heal broken bones and scratches but the body can’t heal cancers and things like that. I’ve had this condition for my whole life and my body has cured itself. I’m very happy. Is it something beyond my knowledge or is it a miracle?Malcolm Sutherland
“I’m enlarged all over,” he said.
Mr Sutherland said they didn’t have stents large enough to use in the surgery and the saw they had to cut him open wasn’t big enough so they had to find another larger one.
“It was like that all through the operation,” he said.
He said his size had impacted all facets of his life.
He gave the example of when his wife asked him for some help with household chores.
“My wife said you can do the dishes. I said ‘I don’t think I can’.
“I got her to stand on a chair in front of the sink. She was looking into my eyes and I was looking into her eyes and I said ‘you do the dishes’ and she said ‘I see what you mean’.”
Big Mal has lived a colourful life with television roles on Neighbours and comedy show Fast Forward. He was also on Ben Elton’s television mini series Stark in 1993.
“I was on Neighbours and beat up Lou Carpenter’s car yard with an iron bar and then the following week I got done for dealing drugs to (the character) Natalie Imbruglia (played) back in the day.”
The gentle giant rode a motorbike around Warrnambool and worked at the Tatts, Lady Bay and the Whalers hotels as a crowd controller.
He also worked at the Henty Hotel in Portland and the Airlie Beach Hotel. He now lives in Tyrendarra.
“I’ve done 10,000 citizens arrests which is when you arrest them and throw them out,” he said.
“That’s in 20 years of being a bouncer.”