We are back, and this time with another silent killer called mitochondrial disease. This disease is genetically inherited in an autosomal recessive or autosomal dominant pattern. It means you can get a mutated gene that causes mitochondrial diseases from one or both biological parents. The diseases can be recognised at birth or may arise later in life.
Before we look at the celebrities who have had this disease, let’s better understand mitochondrial disease and its causes.
What Is Mitochondrial Disease?
Mitochondrial disease is a group of genetic conditions that directly affect the mitochondria. The mitochondria are known to produce the energy our body needs and are organelles found in each cell except the red blood cells.
Their primary function is to convert the food into energy in the form of ATP, thus powering the cell function. In someone with mitochondrial diseases, the cells cannot produce enough energy that the body needs. The disease can affect any body part, including the brain, nerves, muscles, kidneys, liver, heart, ears, and eyes, among other organs.
Type Of Mitochondrial Diseases
There are many known types of mitochondrial diseases. The most common include:
- Leigh syndrome
- Mitochondrial encephalopathy
- Leber hereditary optic neuropathy
- Kearns Sayre syndrome
Symptoms and Causes of Mitochondrial Diseases
Mitochondrial disease symptoms vary depending on the organ affected and the type. The symptoms can range from acute, mild or severe. They include:
- Poor growth
- Hearing and vision loss
- Muscle pain, low muscle tone or muscle weakness
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Breathing problems
- Unexplained vomiting
- Migraines among others
Celebrities With Mitochondrial Disease
Though there are no celebrities with mitochondrial diseases, we will look at a few who had to undergo the fate of the disease, though they are no more.
Also, we will credit remarkable celebrities who have joined some foundations to support people suffering from this disease.
1. Charles Darwin
The naturalist and the father of the evolutionary theory, Charles Darwin, had a mitochondrial disease. He suffered from this disease for the better part of his adult life, which he inherited from his parents.
Some of the symptoms that Darwin encountered included nocturnal pain attacks, sudden facial flushing and severe gastrointestinal symptoms. This indicated that the disease had affected cells with high energy requirements, like the cardiac and neuron cells.
2. Mattie Stepanek
Matthew Joseph Thaddeus Stepanek, known by his stage name Mattie J.T. Stepanker, was an American poet and author of seven best-selling poetry books and essays.
Unfortunately, he had a mitochondrial disease and died at the young age of 13. What was even more devastating was that his other three siblings had died from the same fate of this disease, which their mother unknowingly passed down to them.
3. Jane Danson
The Coronation Street actor and an iconic TV soap opera actor Jane Danson, though not suffering from the disease, joined the Lily Foundation as a celebrity patron and has been at the forefront of raising awareness through a fund drive to help people fighting this disease.
4. Peter Kay
Our champion, Peter Kay, the Bolton comedian who heard the devastating stories of parents with kids facing mitochondrial diseases, decided to take action by joining the Lily Foundation to raise awareness of the diseases and drive funds to the foundation through his car share charity.
5. Thomas Jacob “Jack” Black
Thomas Jacob, popularly known as Jack Black, is an American comedian, actor and musician. He helped raise awareness and fund donations to the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation to help people suffering from the disease.
- Celebrities who’ve Had Optic Nerve Hypoplasia
- Celebrities with Somatic Symptom Disorder
- Celebrities Who Have Had Spasmodic Dysphonia
- Celebrities with Essential Thrombocythemia
Though there is no cure for this devastating disease, research into its diagnosis is underway. However, doctors can manage some of the symptoms, and we sympathise with people affected by this dreadful disease.