'Dwarf': Woman Endures Painful, Controversial Surgeries to Grow Taller

Tiffanie DiDonato, who suffers from dwarfism, chronicled the pain in her new memoir, "Dwarf."
6:08 | 11/30/12

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Transcript for 'Dwarf': Woman Endures Painful, Controversial Surgeries to Grow Taller
A lot of people wish they could be a couple of inches taller. But for one woman, that desire went far beyond a vanity dream. She was born with a form of dwarfism that made every day tasks a challenge. So, she chose to endure a series of extremely painful, risky and controversial surgeries, defying the odds and growing over a foot taller. Abc's juju chang brings us the tory. ♪ Happy birthday to you ♪ Reporter: It's as if every birthday wish tiffanie ever made came true. Thank you. Reporter: But as a woman who once stood only 3'6", her childhood dreams play out in simple every day little victories. Okay. Ready? Totally. Driving. And we're off. Marrying my dream guy. Having a home. Having just a normal life. You know, doing things that a lot of people take for granted. Turning on a light switch, wishing my hands, cooking. That's what I wanted. And I feel like that was worth the risk. You know? All our nothing. Reporter: It's all possible because tiffanie endured an excruciating and controversial series of limb-lentening surgeries that literally break the bones and force them to regrow longer. At a very tender age, tiffanie had to weigh the risks and rewards with a lifetime of consequences in the balance. How many surgeries do you think you had growing up? Too many to count. Reporter: Tiffanie was born with a rare form of dwarfism. Her body was typical size, but her arms and legs would never fully grow. And what's interesting about this photo is, look at the size of the box. Compared to me. And it's a regular present. Reporter: At age 8, she had her first surgery to gain alength in her arms and legs. Describe the pain.T hurt so much, you freeze. It almost is like, if you scream, it's going to hurt worse. You know, all you can do is just kind of let the tears fall and deal with it. Reporter: Tiffanie wanted to do the ghastly surgery again. And this time, ignore the recommended four inch maximum limi why did you feel so strongly that you wanted her to have it? It was all about independence. It was doing things on her own, brushing her own hair. My biggest fear was her being dependent on others for her care, because, let's face it, j gerry and I won't be around forever. Reporter: But gerry really struggles and opposed the surgery. And it was torture, he says, to see her suffer. Very nerve wracking. She would cry out. It was tough. Reporter: And, as a parent, watching your child cry out in pain -- what is that like? It's horrible. I get choked up just thinking about it. Reporter: Tiffanie gained an additional ten inches of height. Took about 14 hours. Reporter: This doctor was tiffanie's orthopedic surgeon and allowed her to go beyond the safety recommendations. What allowed tiffanie to gain 14 inches of height, which seems like an unbelievable number? Incredible tenacity. Tiffanie has incredible tenacity. She -- there were many occasions when she and I talked about stopping the procedure and accepting a compromise. Six inchesov or eight or ten. She wanted to keep going with it. Reporter: At the end of the day, what helps you get through it? I kept my journal. I was as honest with myself, if I wanted to die, then I felt like, you know, that's what i wanted to do, I wrote it down. Reporter: Her journal turned into a memoir she defiantly called "dwarf." In it, she chronicles her no pain, no gain view of life and how surprisingly grateful she is for the experience. If you go therough struggle, if you know what sacrifice is, it makes you that much braver. Reporter: She got a lot of criticism for people that point out that little people of america do not support the risky surgery. And there are those who think this is a surgery that shouldn't be done. This is an operation that potentially can dramatically change your life for the better. It does have its risks and those who advocate against it have a legitimate reason for concern. Reporter: Reza was born with dwarfism and says he regrets that his father pushed him back IN THE '80s TO HAVE IT. He was 12. I did not want to undergo painful procedure which, in my mind, I was worried that, what if it fails? For a few inches, I didn't want to damage my life. I was happy with who I am. Reporter: Unlike tiffanie, reza says the surgery left him paralyzed. Before, it was just an average dwarf, I could run around, I could play sports, i could swim and do things. I would have rather been three feet tall than be, you know, a few inches taller, with all the complications. Reporter: Tiffanie says she has no regrets. I don't feel like I was being reckless. I was aware of the risk. Reporter: Her strength and risk taking were admired by a nearly six foot tall marine named eric. Why did you fall in love with her? Oh, how I didn't, that's probably the better question. She's so powerful and so strong and being in the military, you need somebody that, youknow, she's been through her own battles, you know, so, she knows exactly how to support me through mine. Reporter: They've been happily married for four years, and now have a baby boy. Tiffanie is in a new role she never expected. It's just wonderful to know that I can take care of my son. It's a hat I never thought I'd wear. Now I wear it with pride. Reporter: Tiffanie seems to personify the military's fighting fill lphilosophy. Adapt and overcome. I already have everything I've ever wanted. More of it. More. Reporter: For "nightline," I'm juju chang in jacksonville,

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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