Marfan Syndrome Detection

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It's been almost six months since the shocking death of an FSU athlete who passed away from complications of Marfan Syndrome.

Wednesday the memory is fresh on the minds of several basketball coaches as they gear up for a new season.

It's that time of year to hit the court and show off those basketball skills, but prior to the start of each season athletes of all ages must ensure they're in tip top shape, thus comes the need for a physical examination.

Adolph Hicks, basketball coach at Leon High School, says, “The doctor checks the heart and stuff to make sure the kid is physically fit to participate in any activity in Leon County.”

But this year is different; following the death of FSU basketball star Ronalda Pierce, the term Marfan Syndrome weighs on the minds of many, as was the case for Ronalda, the 19-year-old who died in her sleep last June. Autopsy reports show the cause was an aortic aneurysm stemming from Marfan.

Dr. Edward Shahady says, “These young people, men and women, are tall, lanky, with wing span more than their height.”

Dr. Shahady says thin fingers, heart murmurs and visual problems should also cause suspicion. He says the best prevention is early detection, something he recommends to all physicians as the basketball season approaches.