Huntington's disease is a rare genetic disorder that is inherited by certain people. It is a progressive disease characterized by a type of dementia, uncontrollable movements, memory problems, mood swings, speech problems and severe concentration issues. The disease was first described in 1872 by Dr George Huntington. It is estimated that are one in every 10,000 people is affected by the disease. Hence, there are not too many famous people suffering from it.
Perhaps the most famous person to get Huntington's disease is Woody Guthrie. He was born on 14 July 1912 and was a famous folk musician from America. His most famous song is This Land is Your Land.
It was in the latter half of the 1940s that Huntington's disease began showing symptoms in Guthrie. However, the doctors were unable to diagnose it, and some of them even diagnosed Guthrie as being an alcoholic and schizophrenic. Finally, in 1952, it was confirmed that Guthrie was suffering from Huntington's disease, which he had inherited from his mother. His wife at time, Marjorie, assumed that Guthrie would be a danger to their children, and so she asked him to go to California without her and the kids. Later the couple divorced. It was in California that Guthrie met his third and last wife, Anneke Van Kirk, and the couple had a child together. During this period, Guthrie's health was slowly deteriorating. However, by 1954, his third wife also divorced him, as she could not take the stress of caring for him. However, his second wife, Marjorie, then began taking care of him until he died on 3 October 1967.
As the disease progressed, Guthrie could not control the movements of his body and had to be hospitalized as a result. It is claimed that he had good as well bad days. During good days, he could recognize people, mostly his children and his ex-wife, but during bad days, he was unable to recognize anyone and was uncontrollable.
Unfortunately, Guthrie did not receive the treatment needed for Huntington's disease, as not much information was available about it. Once he died, his ex-wife, Marjorie, founded the Committee to Combat Huntington's disease, which was later re-named the Huntington's Disease Society of America. Unfortunately, three children that Guthrie had with Marjorie and two children from his wife inherited the disease from their father.
Another famous person to suffer from Huntington's disease is a drummer named Trey Gray. He plays for Brooks and Dunn. Gray claims that playing the drums helps him to cope with the disease. He is 39 years old and is presently also concentrating on creating awareness about the disease and raising funds for Oklahoma Chapter of the Huntington's Disease Society of America.
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