‘Folded Man’ In China Had Rare Bone Disorder, Couldn’t Sit Upright For 28 Years

Most of us wouldn’t think twice about sitting and standing upright. But for one man in Shenzhen, China, these were impossible feats.

Mr Li Hua couldn’t stand and sit as normal humans do after developing a rare bone disorder called ankylosing spondylitis. He ended up becoming a ‘folded man’ for 28 years.

Folded manSource

Fortunately, doctors were able to perform a complex series of operations to reconstruct his bones, allowing Mr Li to regain his mobility.

We recount this extraordinary inspiring tale that tells the wonders of both the advancement of medical sciences and the human spirit, as told by South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Li Hua became a ‘folded man’ due to ankylosing spondylitis

According to SCMP’s 11-minute video on 10 Sep, Li Hua was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis at the age of 18.

The condition, which caused his spine to curve forward, deteriorated over time.

Li Hua, the folded man, before diagnosisLi Hua before he was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis

This caused his “folded” posture, which his family was unable to correct due to the costly surgeries needed.

Li Hua’s struggled to eat & drink

Doctors said 3 parts of Li Hua’s body were always in contact with each other, making it difficult for him to do basic tasks.

These parts are:

  • His chin was “connected” to his chest
  • Breastbone to his public bone
  • Face to his thigh bone

folded man Li Hua drinkingSource

As Li Hua was unable to sit upright, he had to eat and drink facing downwards.

His mother, 71, was scared that he would not be able to care for himself once she passed away.

What if I die but he’s still sick? Who will take care of my son?

Operation’s difficulty akin to scaling Mount Everest

Dr Tao Huiren – Li Hua’s surgeon at Shenzhen University General Hospital – said the complexity of the operation could be viewed as climbing Mount Everest in the field of surgery.

Li Hua’s condition was the most severe case he’s seen yet.

Li hua's surgerySource

However, after 4 long operations that involved doctors from different fields, Li Hua’s bones were broken and successfully reconstructed to correct his posture.

Li Hua could finally stand up after 28 years

The mood after the operation was a joyous one. A nurse told SCMP that it’s the first time that she saw Li Hua’s whole face.

His mother was brimming with happiness as she was relieved that he finally has a chance to lead a normal life.

Li Hua's motherSource

As for Li Hua, he can now see the world from a different perspective.


For the first time in 28 years, he could sit upright — a simple privilege that many of us don’t think twice about.

I could finally take a closer look at my mum… She looks older and her hair has turned grey.

As his muscles have shrunk over time due to his bizarre condition, Li Hua had to undergo rehabilitation for months before he was finally discharged in July.


Modern medicine allowed second chance

We are glad that Li Hua was able to build towards a normal life, picking up from where he left off when he was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis at 18.

Thanks to the dedication of his doctors and the advancements of modern medicine, he could finally have an unobstructed view of his mother’s face, and savour food sitting upright.

Li Hua sitting upright to eatSource

The first experience he had with his newly corrected posture must have been an unforgettable one.

The journey was a painful but incredible one. We look forward to seeing Li Hua getting to live his life normally again, and freely enjoy amazing sights the world has to offer.

Featured images adapted from YouTube and LADbible.