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‘Rent’ provides chance to learn of silent killer

Posted: May 4, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 4, 2014 2:00 a.m.

As the College of the Canyons Theatre Department performs “Rent” at the Performing Arts Center on May 9, 10, 11, 16, and 17, it puts the spotlight on Marfan syndrome, which is believed to have caused the death of “Rent” playwright Jonathan Larson at the age of 35.

He did not know he had Marfan syndrome, which puts people at up to 250 times increased risk of aortic dissection (a tear in the large artery that takes blood away from the heart).

With diagnosis and treatment, people with Marfan can live a long life. If they are not diagnosed, they are at risk of a sudden early death.

This is important to me, as well as to other residents of the Santa Clarita Valley, because our family members are affected by Marfan syndrome.

My son, Patrick, has the disorder as do several other friends who reside in our valley.

Tragically, half of the people who have Marfan syndrome or a related disorder are not diagnosed. That’s why we want to make sure that people know the signs.

Some features of Marfan syndrome are easier to see than others. These include long arms, legs, and fingers; tall and thin body type; a curved spine; sunken or protruding chest; flexible joints; flat feet; crowded teeth; and unexplained stretch marks on the skin.

Harder-to-detect signs include heart problems, especially related to the aorta, the large blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart.

Other signs include sudden collapse of a lung and eye problems, including severe nearsightedness, dislocated lens, detached retina, early glaucoma and early cataracts.

Anyone who has the disorder, or suspects that a loved one may be affected, can find out more from The Marfan Foundation (

Interested parties can also call the foundation at 516-883-8712, ext. 126. The foundation can also connect individuals to people in the area who are affected.



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