What is Marfan syndrome? Isaiah Austin gets career-ending diagnosis

Isaiah Austin Baylor University NBA draft marfan syndrome basketball
Isaiah Austin’s condition wasn’t discovered until a standard physical exam before the NBA draft.
Credit: Getty Images

A projected first-round pick in the NBA draft just days away, Isaiah Austin will instead end his career after receiving a devastating diagnosis of Marfan syndrome.

The genetic disorder affects connective tissue by raising the level of a protein called growth factor beta, which causes problems throughout the body, according to The Marfan Foundation. The most commonly affected parts are blood vessels, bones, joints, eyes and the heart, primarily because of enlarged aortas.

The former Baylor University star’s condition was revealed during a pre-draft physical exam when an EKG showed abnormalities in the arteries of his heart, according to ESPN. Austin’s doctors have advised him to stop playing basketball, or he could risk his heart literally bursting.

“They told me that my arteries in my heart are enlarged and that if I overwork myself and push too hard that my heart could rupture,” Austin told ESPN. “The draft is four days away, and I had a dream that my name was going to be called.”

The condition affects about 1 in 5,000 people, and can involve several associated disorders. Though people are born with the syndrome, it can manifest in infancy, adolescence or even adulthood, and can worsen with age.

Some features of Marfan syndrome are visible. They include:

  • Long arms, legs and fingers
  • Tall and thin body type
  • Curved spine
  • Chest sinks in or sticks out
  • Flexible joints
  • Flat feet
  • Crowded teeth
  • Stretch marks on the skin that are not related to weight gain or loss

Other signs can include sudden lung or eye problems. Austin has been blind in his right eye since age 16 because of a detached retina, ESPN reported.

Despite the career-ending diagnosis, Austin is staying positive, telling his fans via Twitter that this is the beginning of a new path for him.



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