Amyloidosis Doesn’t Care What Side of the Political Aisle You’re On

“The Troubles” in Ireland/Northern Ireland go back to the 1700s, and they were aptly named.

There’s been a lot of fighting on both sides—those sides being the Irish and the English. Songs were written hundreds of years ago to memorialize the early resistance after England took possession of the territory we now know as Northern Ireland. Even today, a bitterness among the Irish exists.

How do I know this? My dad was 100 percent Irish. And 100 percent bitter about the whole thing.

Fast forward to the 20th Century, Martin McGuinness became the first Deputy Minister of Northern Ireland and helped broker the “Good Friday” agreement. He had a long, rocky political career.

Still, nobody expected him to step down in January 2017 and then announce he would not stand for reelection. He looked well enough, so when he died two months later, (and I’m sure there were small celebrations in certain counties in Ireland, but I digress) everyone was surprised. After all, he’d dodged one type of bullet or another since 1969.

What was the one he could not duck low enough to dodge? McGuinness had amyloidosis, a rare disease that causes protein (amyloids) to collect in various organs in the body. The organs involved gradually swell until they are either greatly impaired, or no longer work.
For McGuinness, it was his heart.

There’s no cure for amyloidosis, and no way to remove the accumulated amyloids from the body. The only treatments available seek to alleviate the patient’s particular symptoms. That’s why it’s important to raise awareness so that better treatments can be developed.

Regardless of where you stand on a person’s political persuasions, nobody deserves to die from a rare disease.

To find out more about amyloidosis, check out our partner the Amyloidosis Foundation.

Erica Zahn

Erica Zahn

Erica Zahn is passionate about raising awareness of rare diseases and disorders and helping people connect with the resources that may ease their journey. Erica has been a caregiver, and is a patient, herself, so she completely relates to the rare disease community--on a deeply personal level.

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