Leonardo Feder and his twin sister, Clarissa, celebrate your 33rd date of birth in São Paulo, Brazil. (Photo courtesy the Leonardo Feder)


When it pertains to Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), Leonardo Feder to know he’s amongst the lucky ones.

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A residents of São Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city, Feder was diagnosed through Duchenne at period 6 and also immediately began taking corticosteroids as well as heart medicine and supplements.


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“I’ve been well-medicated all my life, so i’m fine,” the 33-year-old claimed in a phone call interview. “I’m in good health.”


It also helps the both his parents, David Feder and also Ana Lucia Langer, are doctors.

“When i was diagnosed through Duchenne, there wasn’t lot information about the disease, for this reason they made decision to study it by themselves,” that said. “My dad is a pulmonologist and also general clinician. And my mother, initially a pediatrician, currently only treats neuromuscular diseases.”


Feder to be diagnosed through a rash mutation in exon 41. He began using a wheelchair when he was 15 and also stopped walking in ~ 20. However that didn’t avoid him from graduating in 2007 v a level in journalism, or earning his master’s level in 2013. He then started his doctoral thesis in approach — “Tracking Jewish eyes: The works of 5 German photographers in exile in Brazil” — and also finished last year.

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“I have Facebook contact with countless Duchenne patients that are an ext than 40 years old, some also close come 50,” he said. “It’s more normal with today’s medicine and treatments.”


A spirituality connection

Like Feder, Texas native Matthew martin is likewise 33 years old. The Dallas residents lived v his parents till he to be 26, once he married his wife, Amber. Together, they have actually a 5-year-old son, Jasper, with one more boy early mid-April.


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Matt Martin, 33, and his family. (Photo courtesy that Matt Martin)


Martin to be diagnosed through Duchenne once he to be 8, due to deletions that exons 46 through 50.

“I shed the capability to to walk sometime about age 13,” he wrote in an email. “I recall standing for the last time on Dec. 14, 1999. That’s the morning I had spinal blend surgery.”

Martin works for a meat distributor owned by his in-laws, answering email inquiries around the company’s products and designing the website. He takes a beta-blocker, and also a blood push medication.

Martin has never bring away steroids, and also said that doesn’t think they “benefit those through DMD in the long run.”

“I’d to speak the most daunting thing around DMD is having actually to count on others for every daily task,” he added. “Constantly losing abilities is challenging as well. But my longevity, ns attribute to God. I definitely would no be here without Him.”

Good attitude, and an excellent care

Debra Miller, president and co-founder the the nonprofit team CureDuchenne, said cases of guys with Duchenne life to their 30s and also beyond “are not unheard of, however it’s rarely to watch this sort of lifespan” amongst patients through the disease, i m sorry affects practically exclusively males. Average life span for Duchenne patients is around 26 years.

“It’s possible that few of them space using steroids. Ventilation and also improved respiratory treatment could likewise make a huge difference,” claimed Miller, whose 22-year-old son, Hawken, has Duchenne. “Many of this patients room on love medications, and also although they’re not curative treatments, castle do help with verity of the heart muscle.”


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Leonardo Feder and also his twin sister, Clarissa, celebrate your 33rd birthday in São Paulo. (Photo courtesy the Leonardo Feder)


In addition, power wheelchairs and handicapped-accessible vans contribute to independence, well-being, and, ultimately, longer life expectancies, miller said.

“A the majority of this needs to do through the care they get, and also unfortunately, whether they have the gaue won wherewithal come invest in the appropriate equipment,” she added. “Attitude is likewise important — enjoy it life, not being isolated and also having emergency care accessible to you.”

The average Duchenne patient stops walking at about 9 or 10 year old, return with great medical care and also the use of steroids, the can often be expanded to period 13 or 14, and sometimes longer, claimed Jerry R. Mendell, among the top U.S. Experts in Duchenne muscular dystrophy and a pediatric neurologist at Nationwide children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

“It’s a matter of definition,” Mendell claimed in a phone interview. “The mutation of the DMD gene will certainly vary in between individuals. It also depends ~ above the genetic background the the individual that carries that mutation.

“Most important, though, is whether the gene will allow for any kind of dystrophin protein to be expressed,” Mendell said. “If it is expressed, then it might extend the life of that individual to varying degrees.”

Identity ‘defined through Duchenne’

Feder and also Martin are relative youngsters contrasted to some v the disease.

Jon Rey-Hastie, who turned 38 this month, is the CEO the DMD Pathfinders — a British patience advocacy group for adults with Duchenne. He is also active in gay causes and last respectable married his husband, Tomás, with whom he shares a flat in Reading, just west the London.

“My identity is characterized by living through Duchenne,” stated Rey-Hastie, who has actually a duplication that exon 2.

Diagnosed at age 3, he stopped walking through his 10th birthday and also began making use of a wheelchair for longer distances. By the moment he was 16, he might no longer stand.


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Jon Rey-Hastie, founder that DMD Pathfinders. (Photo courtesy that Jon Rey-Hastie)


Rey-Hastie receives round-the-clock care from a personal assistant, through all prices covered through England’s national Health business (NHS).

“Once you get to a certain level that need, the NHS pays because that all your care. They’ve started more to support civilization in their very own homes,” that said, estimating the if he had actually to pay, the out-of-pocket invoice for full time assistance would pertained to £120,000 (about $155,000) every year.

The earliest DMD patient he knows is a 54-year-old guy in the Netherlands, who had two brothers with Duchenne; one died at 15, the other at 41.

“I recognize quite a couple of older people with Duchenne who have all species of different mutations,” Rey-Hastie said. “In some cases, it could be a misdiagnosis, yet enough of united state have had actually genetic experimentation done to say it’s definitely Duchenne and also not Becker (muscular dystrophy).”

Unlike several of his Duchenne friends, Rey-Hastie has no trouble speaking. That’s since he’s never had actually a tracheostomy. Instead, he uses non-invasive ventilation — usually a mouthpiece or a mask the goes end his nose.

“If you get the best assistive an innovation for managing the joystick, you can pretty much do something on a computer system that anyone else have the right to do,” Rey-Hastie said, including that he additionally uses voice acknowledgment and devoted software that allows his eye movements to manage the cursor top top his computer.

“A most it is luck,” the said. “To part extent, I’ve to be lucky that I’ve avoided some of the worst stuff. It’s likewise down to knowing the details of your condition — learning what to expect and also how to control it, make the efforts to stay ahead the the game and also the development of the disease.”

For example, the takes antibiotics as soon as feasible for one infection, is on various heart medications, and also he swears by herbal echinacea as a source of potassium.

“The most crucial thing is come avoid getting ill,” Rey-Hastie said, “so I continue to be away from people if lock unwell.”

A grandfather

At 46, Tim Brown is one outlier.


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“The doctors told me I would certainly be dead prior to I might have any kids,” stated Brown, who stays with his wife, Denise, in Suisun City, California — about halfway between Sacramento and San Francisco. “When ns was 8, they told my mom I wouldn’t make it previous 12.”

Yet the Browns have actually a 23-year-old son, Atlee, who’s just provided them a granddaughter. They likewise have a 19-year-old daughter, Kayla. Atlee is healthy, but there’s a chance Kayla might be a Duchenne carrier.

Brown, who to be diagnosed through a partial exon 48 deletion, has been confined come a wheelchair due to the fact that he to be 15. He regulated the electronics department at his ar Wal-Mart because that 10 years. But as his health declined, he at some point retired and also became a full-time dad.

Like Martin, Brown has actually never bring away steroids — lock weren’t easily accessible when he to be diagnosed with Duchenne, that said. Nowadays, he uses several prescription medications, as well as calcium and vitamin D supplements.

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“It’s 24-hour-a-day care,” Denise Brown said. “Sometimes it’s simply me, and also sometimes mine daughter helps. Something Tim needs, i take treatment of. He’s on a ventilator and has a pacemaker, so I have to make sure he takes every his meds, and that his blood press is good. I’ve to be doing this for 29 years and also growing v the process.”

Brown attributes his longevity to his own stubbornness and also arrogance.

“I don’t like world telling me what i can and also cannot do,” he said. “I don’t let my disability stop what ns say, what ns do, or exactly how I carry out it. And also pretty much everybody is surprised and amazed at just how well i’m doing.”