Thursday, June 26, 2008

Chopin and CF

It has long been thought that Frédéric Chopin died of tuberculosis. A very common aliment in the 18th century. However, researchers have been reexamining Chopin's life and the possible causes of his death and a new diagnoses has been brought forward. He might have suffered from Cystic Fibrosis.

Here is the abstract from the article in The Journal of Applied Genetics.

Abstract: Frédéric Chopin – a great Polish composer and pianist – suffered from
a chronic disease. Both during his life and after death physicians disagreed on the subject
of Chopin’s diagnosis. His contemporaries accepted the diagnosis of a disease
common in the 18th century – tuberculosis. Description of new clinical entities provoked
new dilemmas in the 20th century. In our opinion the most tenable seems to be
the diagnosis of cystic fibrosis. In this work we present F. Chopin’s case history
and discuss cons and pron for cystic fibrosis as the cause of F. Chopin’s suffering
and death.

Key words: Chopin, cystic fibrosis, genetics, late diagnosis.

CF wasn't definitively described until the late 1930's, but it certainly had been around long before then. It also present a broad range of affects and cases can range from mild to severe. Max, for example, is on the more severe end of the scale. His lung function is excellent (117% when compared to a a normal, unaffected child) but, he is completely unable to digest most foods. It is only through an incredible amount of drugs and therapies that he is able to thrive. Before he was diagnosed he was literally starving to death. He would eat vast quantities of food and yet he lagged far behind his twin sister in growth.

Finding out whether or not Chopin suffered from CF really wouldn't change much, but it would mean a great deal to those who do suffer from it. It would show that it is possible to leave your mark on the world despite what set backs CF can present to you. And maybe it might just inspire Max to keep with piano.

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