What is Marfan Syndrome?
According to Mayoclinic:
Marfan syndrome is an inherited disorder that affects connective tissue — the fibers that support and anchor your organs and other structures in your body.
Marfan syndrome mostly affects the heart, eyes, blood vessels, and skeleton.
People with Marfan syndrome are distinctively tall and thin with unusually long arms, legs, fingers, and toes. The damage caused by Marfan syndrome can be mild or severe.
Symptoms of Marfan Syndrome
The symptoms of Marfan syndrome sometimes vary even among members of the same family because the disorder can affect multiple areas of the body.
Some people experience only mild symptoms, but others develop life-threatening complications.
Marfan syndrome features may include:
- Tall and slender build
- Unsually long arms, legs, and fingers
- Protruding chestbone
- A high, arched palate and crowded teeth
- Heart murmurs
- Extreme nearsightedness
- An abnormally curved spine
- Flat feet
While the disease might sound like something off the surface of Mars, history is filled with famous people with Marfan Syndrome that you probably didn’t know about.
Top 10 Famous People with Marfan Syndrome
1. Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln’s lean stature, coupled with his long head, is a feature that stands out in pictures of the 16th President of America.
While the symptoms mentioned above are demonstrative of classical Marfans, and even though his descendants have been rumored to be suffering from the same disorder, it is worth noting that there has been no concrete evidence to corroborate the claims.
2. Osama Bin Laden
Don’t be surprised to find his name on this list. Yes, the leader of Al-Qaeda and one of the worst men to have walked the surface of the earth did suffer from Marfan syndrome. The 6 ft 4 terror leader reportedly could not walk and sit straight for long stretches as he battled this disorder.
3. Julius Caesar
The erstwhile Commander-in-Chief of the Roman Empire is rumored to have battled Marfan syndrome alongside Epilepsy. He succumbed to neither and died at the hands of his trusted friend, Brutus.
King Tut, the short-lived Egyptian Pharoah, was reportedly plagued by Marfan syndrome, and it has been speculated to have been the cause of his death at the age of 19. CT scans of his remains indicate a strong probability.
5. Sergei Rachmaninoff
Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff was a Russian composer, and conductor. Rachmaninoff is considered one of the finest pianists of his time and, as a composer, one of the last great icons of Romanticism in Russian classical music. Known for his very big hands, he battled Marfan syndrome all his life.
6. Michael Phelps
Yes! The most decorated swimmer in history has long battled with Marfan syndrome. Standing at an impressive height of 6 ft 4, it is rumored to be the source of his godlike swimming abilities at the same time, the bane of his existence. The doctors at John Hopkins constantly track his health.
7. Bradford Cox
Bradford Cox is an American singer, songwriter, and musician, best known as the lead singer and guitarist of the indie rock band Deerhunter.
Around the age of 10-12, he started to display symptoms of Marfan syndrome but it hasn’t stopped him from leading a successful career so far.
8. Vincent Schiavelli
Vincent Schiavelli was an American character actor and food writer noted for his work on stage, screen, and television. Described as an “instantly recognizable sad-faced actor”, Schiavelli was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome in childhood.
He was among the most prominent individuals to be diagnosed with this disease. Vincent Schiavelli was a founder of the Marfan National Foundation, which helped people deal with and raise awareness of this condition.
9. Niccolo Paganini
Ironically, despite living a century before Rachmaninoff, Paganini was the inspiration for most of Rachmaninoff’s most famous work, The Rhapsody. The Italian was the most celebrated violin virtuoso of his era and left his mark as one of the icons of modern violin technique. He battled Marfan syndrome and it is said to have given him his musical advantage.
10. Jonathan Larson
Jonathan Larson was an American composer, lyricist, and playwright, his most famous were Rent and Tick, Tick… Boom!, which highlighted the social issues of multiculturalism, substance use disorder, and homophobia. Unfortunately, he was never diagnosed with Marfans despite exhibiting most of the signs which led to his preventable death.
There you go! This list should make for a fantastic fun fact session with your friends or colleagues. Did you enjoy the read?
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