HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - The first time Kendall and Cristin Langford had ever heard about Marfan syndrome, which affects one in 5,000 people, was when their third child was born.
Kendall, a former NFL defensive lineman who played for the Miami Dolphins from 2008 to 2011 and most recently with the New Orleans Saints and the Houston Texans, said it was shortly after his son's birth Oct. 6.
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Baby Kamden was diagnosed with neonatal Marfan, a life-threatening genetic disorder that can impact the heart and lungs. After doctors noticed a heart murmur, Kamden was in the neonatal intensive care unit.
"I experienced every emotion you could possibly experience at that point," Cristin Langford said. "I was confused. I was angry."
They spent Thanksgiving in the hospital and Kamden died Nov. 28. He was seven weeks old. Langford said they decided to share his family's heartbreaking story to help raise awareness about the disorder.
"I need to come out, use my platform and bring awareness to other families who may be going through it," Kendall Langford said.
Dr. Roman Yusupov, the medical director of the Marfan Clinic at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood said the genetic disorder affects the connective tissues of the body.
"Usually the first problem in a baby who is born with Marfan syndrome, called neo-natal Marfan syndrome, would be a severe heart problem," Yusupov said. "A valve is malformed or another congenital heart defect which presents difficulties for the newborn."
Yusupov said others symptoms include abnormally long fingers, enlarged corneas, dislocated lenses and crumpled ears. Kendall and Cristin Langford and their children, 8-year-old Kaiden and 4-year-old Kylie, do not have Marfan syndrome.
"In many cases, the child is born with the mutation that develops only in that child, so the mother or the father are not affected at all," Yusupov said.
The family will be participating in the Walk for Victory fundraiser Jan. 21 at Hollywood's Topeekeegee Yugnee Park at 3300 N. Park Rd., Hollywood. The event benefits the Marfan Foundation's programs.
For more information or to join the Walk for Kamden team, visit the give.marfan.org.
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