Amyloidosis Diagnosis Leaves Former NFL Player in Need of Heart Transplant

 

Matt Millen played linebacker in the NFL for 12 seasons. He was a tough competitor and won 3 Super Bowl rings. For eight years, he was the General Manager of the Detroit Lions and his teams during that time had a .270 winning percentage. He is arguably the least successful general manger in the history of modern professional spots.

But, according to a recent article in USA Today, the fight that he is in right now is by far the biggest challenge he’s ever faced. This past summer Millen was diagnosed with amyloidosis. For the previous 6 years, the 60-year old, had suffered from shortness of breath and chest pains. The actual diagnosis took a long time and the news was not good. Millen will require a heart transplant in order to save his life.

Amyloidosis, causes the body to produce bone marrow protein that is abnormal. The protein created by amyloidosis finds its way into the body’s tissues and organs. Millen’s amyloidosis has attacked his heart. The severity of Millen’s diagnosis means that he is undergoing treatment with chemotherapy. There is no cure for amyloidosis and chemotherapy is the only treatment currently available to him.

Even in a dire medical situation like this, Millen has found some moments of humor. This past summer, while undergoing bone marrow tests in Florida, Millen started with his doctor talking about the bad state of Detroit’s baseball team the Tigers. The doctor made an off-hand comment that they weren’t as bad as the 2008 Detroit Lions football team, who went 0-16 that year. He evidently did not realize that the patient he was treating was the man who put that team together as general manager. A nurse finally filled the doctor in.

About 70% of amyloidosis patients are male and most are over the age of 60. It is a disease that is genetic in nature, so if a family member has amyloidosis, you may be at risk of developing it. Additionally, people with conditions that cause chronic inflammation may also be a risk factor for amyloidosis.

The Amyloidosis Foundation is a great resource for those looking for more information on this disease and provides connections to the amyloidosis community.


Donald Blake

Donald Blake

Donald Blake has a BS in Communication Studies. He has a lengthy tenure in the healthcare, media and education fields. He is dedicated to improving the lives of those with rare diseases through his knowledge of healthcare and communications.

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