Sandy Allen, who stood 7'7", succumbed to an unknown illness in Indiana

Credit: Dayla Thurston/The Shelbyville News/AP

Sandy Allen, at 7’7″ recognized as the world’s tallest woman, died Wednesday in Indiana, a friend told the Associated Press. She was 53.

Allen, who also weighed more than 400 pounds, passed away in her hometown of Shelbyville, Ind., after succumbing to an unknown illness. Prior to her death, Allen was hospitalized for recurring blood infections, diabetes, kidney failure and breathing problems, according to family friend Rita Rose.

Considered normal-sized when born, Allen developed a tumor on her pituitary gland that caused her to produce too much growth hormone. By age 10, she was 6’3″, and by 16 , 7’1″. In 1971, Allen underwent an operation to stop further growth.

According to Rose, her friend was proud of her height. “She embraced it,” Rose told the AP. “She used it as a tool to educate people.”

Allen appeared in numerous films, including Federico Fellini’s 1976 Casanova, in which she played “Angelina the Giantess,” as well as a 1981 TV movie called Side Show and a 1981 Canadian documentary, Being Different.

In the 1980s, Allen appeared at the Guinness Museum of World Records in Niagara Falls, Ontario.