Edward Nino Hernandez is only 27 inches tall — about the size of a 1-year-old — and for seven short months he held the Guinness World Records title as the smallest man in the world.
Born to a poor family in rural Colombia, Hernandez used his title to pull his struggling family out of poverty, but others looking to profit used the pint-sized 25-year-old along the way.
His poignant, but torturous journey is the subject of a documentary, “World’s Smallest Man,” which will air on TLC on Sunday, Sept. 11. “When I look out my window, I dream that I am tall — to go to work, as a doctor or a painter, to have a farm and a Jeep,” says Hernandez, who speaks in Spanish.
“I asked my mom, Why am I not growing?” he says through a translator in the documentary. “I used to get very angry and bad-tempered because of my problems.”
He can do little for himself because of his height, so family members cook for him, bathe him and take him to the toilet.
His rise to fame — dancing at discos, appearing on television talk shows, even being patronizingly cuddled on the lap of the president of Colombia — calls into question how world-record competitions can create success in an instant or destroy it. Wherever he goes, Hernandez is fondled and picked up. He has his own “body guard,” a family relative who carries him around to protect him from gawking strangers.
“I am not afraid of kidnapping,” said Hernandez’s father. “But I am afraid to leave him alone, that people will take him, as if he were a lost toy.”
Eventually, Khagendra Thapa Magar, an 18-year-old from Nepal, who is only one inch shorter, took the new Guinness title, and the celebrity calls dwindled.
But Hernandez draws strength from a large, loving family who treat him with respect and support all his dreams to lead a normal life.