Alive at 45 - Bradwell man celebrates beating unusual killer condition

Stuart Sadler is raising money for the Marfan Trust. Picture: Terry Postle

Stuart Sadler is raising money for the Marfan Trust. Picture: Terry Postle - Credit: Archant

For most people a milestone birthday is an opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved and to think about what might be yet to come.

But for Stuart Sadler reaching 45 on May 22 is reason enough to celebrate.

The Bradwell father-of-two was told in his early 20s that his aorta - the main artery to the heart - would burst and kill him instantly by his mid 40s, as had already happened to four members of his family.

But with improved treatments he has managed to fend off the prognosis and is raising money to celebrate simply being alive.

At the time of the diagnosis in 1994 Mr Sadler and his family were the only people in East Anglia known to suffer from Marfan Syndrome.

The condition affects the skeleton and connective tissue, the main concern being around the aorta which can grow too big and rupture.

Mr Sadler, whose 17-year-old son Shaun is also affected, said he had already doubled the £1000 target for the Marfan Trust he hoped to reach by the end of May.

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He said: 'When I was first diagnosed they told me I would die in my mid 40s and quite a few of my family members had done exactly that, so at that point I decided to try to make 45.

'In some ways it focuses your mind on always adding value in everything you do. I am in a better position now because that was 1994 and there was no medication or surgery whereas now I am on pills to slow down the aorta growth.

'It was hard to start with in the first few years and it has been hard with Shaun.

'Plus it has been equally hard for the youngest Toby who is nearly 14 and is unaffected but knows that his dad and his brother are.

'I am so happy to have reached 45, and now it is about setting the next target of 55.'

The family including Mr Sadler's wife Sam are all heavily involved in football and particularly AC Mill Lane under 14s, which Toby plays in and Shaun coaches.

Fundraising is focused on an auction with signed items from the world of sport and a holiday in Blackpool among lots going under the hammer.

His main birthday bash revolves around a charity football tournament he is organising for May 14 at Lynn Grove High School in Gorleston 1-4pm.

To find out more or to donate visit the online donation page or email

What is Marfan syndrome?

Marfan syndrome is an inherited disorder of the body's connective tissue that affects men and women of any race or ethnic group

It was identified in 1896 by a French physician, Antoine Marfan.

Those affected are often tall and gangly and suffer from eye problems, hypermobility, and thyroid problems.

The main threat comes from the ballooning and potentially fatal tearing of the aorta which can cause death at an early age unless diagnosed in good time and treated medically and surgically.

Each child of an affected parent has a 50pc chance of inheriting the syndrome.

Around 10,000 in the UK have Marfan Syndrome, around one in 5,000.

Famous people from history who may have been affected include Rachmaninov, Abraham Lincoln, and Julius Caesar.

To find out more visit the Marfan Trust's website.

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