Top NBA prospect forced to quit due to rare medical condition

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Dr. Sapna Parikh reports on NBA draft hopeful Isaiah Austin and his diagnosis of Marfan Syndrome. (WABC)

Disappointing news for a basketball star who was hoping to play in the NBA. Just days before the draft, he found out his career is over.

It's because of a rare but dangerous medical condition discovered during a physical.

"They said I wouldn't be able to play basketball anymore at a competitive level," said the player, Isaiah Austin.

The 2o-year old 7 foot 1 former Baylor basketball star was just diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome. He was told to stop playing basketball immediately, just days from the NBA draft.

"I had a dream that my name was gonna be called," he said.

Testing during an NBA physical revealed the genetic condition that affects 1 in 5,000 people. It weakens the connective tissue of the entire body, affecting bones, joints, blood vessels, and most concerning, the heart.

"They told me my arteries in my heart are enlarged and if I overwork myself or push too hard my heart could rupture," said Austin.

The concern is an aortic dissection, a tearing of the biggest blood vessel off the heart.

"The aortic wall is weakened it can tear, when it tears one of a number of things can happen-- most of them lead to death," Austin said.

As a cardiac surgeon at NYU Langone Medical Center. Dr. Abe DeAnda works with the Marfan Foundation to raise awareness about the condition.

"We advise people not to do any strenuous exercise, not do anything that involves contact and the NBA, last I watched is both strenous and a lot of contact. It's not worth the risk," said Dr. DeAnda. "His prognosis to live a normal length life is very good but he's now going to require close surveillance the rest of his life."

Most people with Marfan's are extremely tall with long arms and legs, and often curved spine. But the signs vary. For Isaiah, the retinal detachment that left him blind in his right eye may have been the first clue.

"For all my supporters I just want to say I'm sorry, I'm sorry they couldn't see me play," Austin said.

His announcement spurred an outpouring of support on social media, with Russel Simmons tweeting, "Sending all my positive thoughts to @IsaiahAustin. You still have a tremendous amount of offer to this world. Go be great, we got you."

Isaiah's positive attitude is inspiring fans and others with his condition. On Instagram, he says in part, "I was blessed enough to play (basketball) on one of the highest levels, despite the odds that were stacked against me. Blessed is all I can say. Thankful is all I can be."

"It's not the end, It's only the beginning," he said.

Link to the Marfan Foundation:
Related Topics:
healthhealthmedical researchmarfan syndrome
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