10 Famous Marfan Syndrome Personalities

This famous Marfan syndrome is an inherited genetic disorder that affects the connective tissue of the body. In general terms, syndrome means a collection of signs & symptoms correlated and often linked with a particular disease or disorder.

Connective tissues are responsible for providing support and anchors with the organs and other structures together. They provide strength and flexibility to structures such as bones, ligaments, blood vessels, muscles, and heart valves.

Since connective tissue is the most abundant and widely distributed tissue of the body, it is present everywhere. Marfan syndrome hence can affect many systems in humans.

This famous Marfan syndrome can cause dysfunction and abnormalities in the heart, blood vessels, eyes, bones, joints, lungs, skin, and nervous system. Marfan syndrome causes the connective tissues to lack strength due to faulty or unusual chemical makeup.

Marfan syndrome is a rare disorder but has an autosomal mode of transmission. If either of the parents has Marfan syndrome, their child has a 50% chance of having Marfan syndrome.

However, it is found that in about 25% of cases of Marfan syndrome, the abnormal gene is a result of mutation. (Mutation= change in DNA sequence) . In other 75% of cases, people have inherited Marfan syndrome.

Famous Marfan syndrome can be fatal early in life, but an average lifespan can be expected with proper medical care and treatment.

History of Marfan Syndrome 

Famous Marfan syndrome was discovered in 1896 by Dr. Antoine Marfan (after whom Marfan syndrome is named), a French pediatrician. He found this disease in a five-year-old girl with striking, unusual features like very long fingers and limbs.

Causes of Marfan Syndrome 

Marfan syndrome is caused by a defect in the gene that is responsible for making a protein that helps give connective tissue its elasticity and strength.

The gene in which the defect occurs is the FBN1 gene. The defect in this gene leads to the underproduction of a protein called fibrillin-1.

The defect/ reduction in the amount of fibrillin-1 directly affects the formation of connective tissues. The defect can also lead to an overgrowth in bones, resulting in long limbs and significant height.

Famous Marfan syndrome can be either inherited by either parent (75% cases) or can be due to random mutation in the gene even when neither of the parents has the disorder (25% cases).

Symptoms of Marfan Syndrome

Marfan syndrome is congenital; that is, it is present from birth. However, there are chances that it is not diagnosed until adolescence or young adulthood.

The severity of symptoms depends from person to person.

Signs and symptoms of this syndrome can vary to a lot of extents. While for some, the signs and symptoms are mild, on the other hand, some can experience life-threatening symptoms. This is because this disorder affects many different parts of the body.

People with famous Marfan syndrome have symptoms that include-

  • Abnormally long arms, legs, and digits
  • The tall and thin structure of the body
  • The breastbone protrudes outward or dips inward. That is, the chest sinks in or tends to stick out.
  • The spine is abnormally curved
  • Feet are flat
  • Crowded teeth
  • The palate is high and arched
  • Stretch marks are present on the body, which are not related to weight gain or weight loss.
  • Heart murmurs can be heard through the stethoscope
  • Extreme nearsightedness (blurring of objects far away)
  • Lens dislocation (lens dislocates from its normal position to somewhere far away)

Complications

This famous Marfan syndrome can affect any part of the body. Hence it can cause a large variety of complications.

Aorta is a large artery that arises from the heart and supplies oxygen-rich blood to all body parts. People with famous Marfan syndrome are at a high risk of developing severe complications.

Different parts of the eyes may also develop problems. The most common is dislocation of the lens. This happens due to weak structures that hold it in its place.

People with famous Marfan syndrome are also at risk of detaching the retina from its place or having a tear. The retina is essential for vision.

People with Marfan syndrome develop eye problems like cataracts at a much younger age.

Famous Marfan syndrome can cause scoliosis in people suffering from it. It also causes problems in the normal development of ribs, which in turn can disturb the breastbone. In turn, the breastbone tends to either protrude out or sink in the chest.

Foot pain due to flat feet and back pain is also widespread. An aortic aneurysm is the leading cardiovascular complication that develops in the human body due to Marfan Syndrome.

Since Marfan syndrome can weaken the aorta walls, the heart pumps out more blood to the body than usual during pregnancy. Hence, during pregnancy, women with famous Marfan syndrome can have immense stress on the aorta. This increases the risk of rupture or life-threatening aortic dissection.

Continuing on the same note, here is a list of the top 10 famous people with famous Marfan syndrome:

1. Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States of America. There have been speculations that he suffered from Marfan Syndrome. These speculations are based on his body build.

famous marfan syndrome
By Believe Creative/ Flickr. Copyright 2021.

He had a lean structure, long narrow nose, long hands and arms, thin chest, hanging shoulders. These all signs point towards Marfan Syndrome. Even his descendants are rumored to be suffering from the famous Marfan Syndrome.

2. Michael Phelps

It is not a surprise that Michael Phelps is absolutely the greatest swimmer of all time. But what is surprising is the fact that Michael Phelps is rumored to be one of the famous people with Marfan Syndrome.

famous marfan syndrome
By Marco Paköeningrat/ Flickr. Copyright 2021.

It comes as quite a shock since Michael Phelps has won 18 Olympic Gold Medals and possesses 39 World Records to his name. But his stature shows symptoms of Marfan Syndrome clearly.

He is 6’4″ in height, has high mobile knees, has very long arms (an arm span of someone 6’7″), is thin and flexible.

3. Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar, one of the greatest rulers, is also the victim of Marfan Syndrome. Asterix comics depict him with long fingers and skinny stature.

famous marfan syndrome
By J.D. Falk/ Flickr. Copyright 2021.

But Julius Caesar didn’t let Marfan Syndrome hold him back from being one of the strongest when it came to being a courageous ruler. His strength knew no boundaries and made everyone bow in front of the mighty power that he held.

4. Osama Bin Laden

Osama Bin Laden, listed on the topmost- wanted and leader of Al- Qaeda, made it to the list of people with Marfan Syndrome. The one who caused mass-level destruction all around the world allegedly was suffering from Marfan Syndrome.

famous marfan syndrome
By 2winTrade/ Flickr. Copyright 2021.

There is no definite proof; however, the signs and symptoms of Marfan Syndrome are pretty visible. Long arms, long fingers, narrow, elongated face all point out in one direction. Apparently, he had difficulty when it came to walking or sitting for too long as well.

5. John Tavener

John Tavener, a British composer, was famous for his commendable work like “Song for Athene,” “The Whale.” He was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome in 1990.

famous marfan syndrome
By iClassical Com/ Flickr. Copyright 2021.

He had already battled two serious heart attacks before the diagnosis. The New York Times offered him the title of “Composer with the eye on God.” He died at the age of 69 at his home.

6. Sergei Rachmaninoff

Russian composer and pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff was a very well-known personality. His long fingers enhanced his musical skills, which supposedly pointed out a famous Marfan Syndrome victim.

famous marfan syndrome
By Koichi IIJIMA/ Flickr. Copyright 2021.

In 1986, D.A Young proposed that the artist may have suffered from this condition. This was proposed based on the features of Rachmaninoff, which were associated with Marfan Syndrome, like thin, long body and nose.

He was myopic and also developed arthritis later on. Other than this, eye strain and back strain as well, which eventually caused hindrance to his musical career. Thus, it justified the assumption that he was a victim of Marfan Syndrome.

 

7. Niccolo Paganini

Niccolo Paganini was considered to be sheer a musical genius. He was the inspiration of many works of Rachmaninov. One of the compositions of Rachmaninov that Niccolo Paganini heavily inspired was “The Rhapsody.”

famous marfan syndrome
By Art Gallery ErgsArt – by ErgSap/ Flickr. Copyright 2021

His musical genius was supported by the condition that he had. That is the famous Marfan Syndrome. Marfan Syndrome gave Niccolo Paganini long thing fingers which helped him in being an excellent violinist.

8. Tutankhamun

The list of victims of Marfan Syndrome also includes the name of an Egyptian pharaoh, King Tutankhamun. Also known as King Tut.

Famous Marfan Syndrome
By Toshiyuki IMAI/ Flickr. Copyright 2021.

He died at a very young age of 19 years. Since he died very early, his early demise led Historians to investigate his family’s disease.

CT scans and DNA tests, along with years of research of his mummy, made historians believe that he was the victim of Marfan Syndrome. He had a bent spine and an abnormally tall body with thin extremities, pointing to the same.

Not only this, his mother and father also depicted the same characteristics, which led to the belief that they might as well have suffered from famous Marfan Syndrome.

9. Bradford Cox

Man with multiple talents, Bradford Cox, is one of the top 10 famous people with Marfan syndrome.

Famous Marfan Syndrome
By Quique/ Flickr. Copyright 2021.

Bradford Cox is an actor, singer, songwriter, guitarist, and lead singer of the rock band Deerhunter.

At the age of 10, he started noticing signs and symptoms of Marfan Syndrome and was later diagnosed with it. This led him to be isolated and awkward. Hence, he had no friends. This made him more focused on his music and highly passionate about it.

He stands 6’4″ with long limbs and an elongated face. Facing all the odds, Bradford Cox started his actor journey with the highly praised movie “Dallas Buyers Club.”

10. Robert Johnson

Robert Leroy Johnson was an American blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter whose music inspires artists. Robert Johnson is now recalled as a master of the blues.

Famous marfan syndrome
By Ray MacLean/ Flickr. Copyright 2021

Based on features like tall, slim stature, loose joints, and unnaturally elongated fingers, a history of resolving cataracts suggests that he might have Marfan Syndrome.

This guitar wizard passed away due to aortic dissection. Even after Robert Johnson’s death, his music continues to influence musicians all over the world.

Apart from these top 10 famous people with Marfan Syndrome, the other people who suffered from Marfan Syndrome are:

  • Vincent Schiavelli- Vincent Schiavelli was an American character actor and food writer. He is known for his work on stage, screen, and television. Vincent Schiavelli was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome in childhood. His death occurred in 2005.
  • Jonathan Larson- Jonathan Larson was an American composer and playwright. He was known for diving into the social issues of multiculturalism, addiction, and homophobia with his work.
  • Flo Hyman- Flo Hyman was an American athlete who played volleyball. She was an Olympic silver medalist. Flo Hyman played professional volleyball in Japan. Her death occurred due to heart complications due to Marfan Syndrome.
  • Isaiah Austin- Isaiah Austin is an American former professional basketball player. Isaiah Austin played two years of college basketball for Baylor University. Before he was diagnosed with a mild form of Marfan syndrome, he was named a possible lottery pick in the 2014 NBA draft.

The above was the list of some very famous people with famous Marfan Syndrome. Isn’t it lovely to realize how they all fought a near life-threatening disease and never gave up on their dreams and themselves? This is sheer proof of “where there’s a will, there’s away.”

You can find recent posts about Marfan Syndrome on National Marfan Foundation’s website.

I hope the battles with famous Marfan Syndrome of famous personalities greatness and achievements inspire us to reach our goals, be it big or small.

Any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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