Isaiah Austin is a former Baylor University basketball player who has overcome many health obstacles in his 20 short years on the earth. Blind in his right eye since a young age, he has had to battle hard to be one of the best players in the nation. Standing at 7’1″ tall, excelling at the game of basketball wasn’t overly difficult for him, but doing so with sight in only one eye most certainly was.
After a great freshmen campaign at Baylor, Austin was forced to return to school and not enter the NBA draft due to a shoulder injury. Scouts projected him as a high pick that year. However, after returning to school he once again had a stellar year and was once again projected to be a high pick in this years upcoming draft.
During a routine check up and physical for the NBA combine, it was discovered that Austin has Marfan Syndrome. A standard EKG revealed an abnormality, and further genetic testing indeed showed that the diagnosis is correct. This means an end to an NBA career that never was.
So what is Marfan Syndrome and why is it derailing NBA careers in one foul swoop?
Marfan syndrome is a genetic disorder affecting connective tissues in the body, it can dangerously interfere with the functionality of the heart, eyes, blood vessels and skeleton. One of the main characteristics of Marfan Syndrome is long limbs, fingers and toes, which would explain Austin’s 7’1″ height.
The severity of the disease changes from person to person, but if the heart and blood vessels are affected it can become deadly. One of the many side effects of the disease is aortic enlargement which has taken the lives of many prep basketball players and football players in recent years. In fact, testing for Marfan’s is only a new phenomenon in sports due to the many instances of it being detected too late.
Getting tested for Marfan’s is as simple as a routine blood test or EKG. Knowing if you, or someone you love is in jeopardy for complications due to this disease is essential to overall health. According to the Marfan Foundation, around 1 in 5,000 people have Marfan syndrome, though only about half of those with the disorder know they even have it.
The disease is inherited from parents, and children of someone with the disease are at a 50% chance of getting the mutated gene. Roughly 25% of people will be the first to have the gene, which means it forms from what’s known as a spontaneous mutation. Get informed, and stay healthy.
Consult your primary care physician or chiropractor for ay medical related advice.