Marfan syndrome is not a life threatening disease or a disorder and the world has seen famous people with Marfan syndrome who have scaled great heights and gone on to achieve great success in their respective fields inspite of their handicap.
Here is a list of few such people:
Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587)
This strikingly beautiful woman was the only legitimate surviving child of King James V, the ruler of Scotland from 1542-1567. She was extremely tall (5’11”) and was known to have beautiful long hands. Widowed at an early age, she was held as a captive for twenty five years before her execution at the age of 44, in 1587. She suffered from ill-health on account of rheumatoid arthritis and hyper mobility, both of which were attributed to Marfan syndrome in her case.
Niccolo Paganini (1780-1840)
Born in Genoa, this famous Italian composer and violinist was extremely tall and haggard. Infact, he almost gave an emaciated look due to which he was often depicted with unkempt horn like hair by caricaturists of that time. Though his love for music started with his music lessons in the mandolin at the tender age of five, he soon switched to the violin where he was brilliant. An eminent physician of the era noted that he had extraordinarily long fingers, though his hands were normal in size. He even lost his voice towards the end of his life, which was probably caused by a paralysis of laryngeal nerve, brought about by a dilating aortic arch. His prodigious success with the violin was often attributed to the extraordinary flexibility of his fingers. Though it is commonly believed that he suffered from Marfan syndrome, he could have suffered from a similar disorder of the connective tissue, the Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
Whether the 16th President of the US actually suffered from the Marfan syndrome has been the cause of much speculation. A self-educated man with very little formal education, he rose to the highest echelon by dint of his sheer grit, and determination. He is said to have been 1.98 m tall at the age of 17 (as against the average height of 1.68 m), earning him the nickname ‘tall spider of a boy’ at school. He had abnormally long legs and he would look almost as tall as a normal man while seated. He also had a long, bony face and unusually long hands and fingers which further gave rise to the guesses that he was one of the most famous people with Marfan Syndrome. However, a cast of his hands has shown that they were not slender, as is the case with people who suffer from this syndrome but powerful and muscular. So, Abraham Lincoln might not have been suffering from Marfan syndrome after all.
A very distant relative of Lincoln who shared 1/4048th of his genetic material was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome in 1959. While some doctors strongly believe that he suffered from the Marfan syndrome, others reject this theory altogether.
Vincent Schiavelli (1948-2005)
An American citizen, he was a famous actor who starred in various television shows and Hollywood movies. His was a confirmed case of Marfan syndrome and he was even a member of the National Marfan Foundation, an establishment that comes to the aid of those affected by this syndrome. He breathed his last in December 2005, finally succumbing to lung cancer.
This famous boy pharaoh is also said to have suffered from the Marfan syndrome. His father, Akhenaten had wide hips and huge breasts, which gave him an effeminate look. His daughters too had abnormally long limbs, heads, fingers and toes. His mother also showed some signs peculiar to Marfan syndrome because of which it is now widely believed that he too suffered from it. His mummified body was found to be 1,65m tall (he died at a very young age), and an abnormally curved spine. However, he might have suffered from Klippel-Feil syndrome, a fact that has not been corroborated till date.
Besides these people listed above, here is a list of some more famous people with Marfan syndrome:
• John Tavener, a British classical composer.
• Russ Hexter, the director of the movie ‘Dadetown’ who died at the age of 27 due to aortic aneurysm.
• Chris Patten, a basketball player for the Unversity of Maryland had undiagnosed Marfan syndrome.
• Another very famous person with Marfan syndrome traits is Osama Bin Laden. This man who headed the Al Qaida and masterminded the 9/11 attacks was almost 6’6” tall, which was unusual for his family. He was extremely thin and bony, and weighed only 160 pounds inspite of his height. His face was rather long-ish and he had extremely long fingers and arms. Not only this, he used cane for walking which was probably due to back problems caused by the connective tissue.