There’s a debate I see in different places on the internet, about whether a person with a genetic disorder should – or even has the right to – have a child when there’s a chance that they too will suffer from the same disorder. In this case I’m speaking of Marfan Syndrome and similar disorders. Is it okay for someone with this disorder to risk passing it on to a child? And, as with any issue, there are a lot of very opinionated people, people who strongly and loudly object, saying that it’s selfish and wrong. And just to clarify, this is my opinion on this matter only in relation to Marfan Syndrome and similar disorders, not the many other genetic disorders in which I’m unqualified to have an educated opinion.
Now, my mom didn’t have the disorder, neither of my parents did. I received the defected gene that causes a tissue disorder via what’s known as “spontaneous mutation”. Meaning, the gene wasn’t inherited, it just mutated on it’s own. This is the case in approximately 1 out of 4 instances of MFS. But, had one of my parents had the disorder already and still chosen to risk it by having biological children here is what my stance is on the issue:
I suffer because of this disorder, I do. I’m always in pain, I’ve had 7 surgeries, I take many medications with many side effects. I worry, about my future, about my heart, about in what way this disorder is going to affect my body next. So yes, clearly, I struggle because of this disorder.
But the thing is, I am who I am because of this disorder and the things that suffering has taught me. I feel like this life has opened my eyes to things that I wouldn’t miss for the world. Things like compassion and understanding and passion. You need to be passionate about the things that you do have in your life, or the struggle wouldn’t be worth the reward those things give you. I’ve been given the ability and the need to fight in order to live and in the end living becomes something that holds so much more meaning because of it. And maybe I live a life that hands me days where all I’ve accomplished is not giving up, but I also live a life that’s been blessed with only the most amazing people to help me through it. I am happy to be here, no matter how much it hurts, no matter how often I question whether or not I can handle it anymore. So, if you asked me; had I seen this life – the good, the bad, the people, the tears, the love, the pain – and been given the choice, would I have chosen to be born to this life, to this disorder? Yes.
Had my mom known there was a chance that I would have this disorder, and decided that it wasn’t worth the risk then none of this would’ve happened. None of the laughter, none of the smiles, the heartbreak, the hugs, the lessons about life that only pain – physical or emotional – can teach you. No “Marfamily” to lean on and learn from, no words of strength from the other side of the world, from strangers in nature but family and dear loved ones in circumstance. And, maybe I’m crazy for it but I would not change those things.
There is suffering everywhere in the world, in numbers incomprehensible, and in ways unimaginable. I have a roof over my head, food in my stomach, a home, a family and yes, I happen to have Marfan Syndrome, I happen to be in pain. But it’s part of life, it’s part of my life. And one day, if my life should allow it, and I need to make a choice: to risk having a child with my disorder, or not, I know my decision. And I know that it’s the right one because no matter what that child may face because of it, they will face it with a love unwavering and unconditional, and a strength unlike any other. If it’s meant to be, it will be.