Medicine: Abe's Malady

Was it Marfan's syndrome?

To Dr. Harold Schwartz, the signs left little doubt. The seven-year-old boy visiting his Huntington Park, Calif., office in 1959 had Marfan's syndrome, a genetic disorder of the connective tissue that can cause heart and eye problems, affect skeletal growth and occasionally be fatal. A few months later, the boy's grandmother dropped in to inquire about his condition and revealed that her husband had died of Marfan's. The grandmother's married name was Lincoln.

Says Schwartz: "I call that my 'burning bush' moment. I had read Carl Sandburg's biography of Abraham...

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