My husband's brother Gary died at age 33 from a ruptured aorta. We didn't know what it was then. His mom died one year later, three weeks before our wedding. The manner of death was so similar that Paul's brothers and their children (and Paul and our children) decided to get genetic testing. The diagnosis is a condition similar to, but not exactly like, Marfans Syndrome--a connective tissue disorder.
The worst part of the syndrome is indeed the enlarged aorta that develops dissections over time. Think of a balloon that you scratch with a dull razor over time. Eventually these tears cause the balloon to pop. Two of Paul's brothers have had a surgery to put a sleeve over the aorta. Many of the Zub kids have been on medication. Ours, thankfully, are okay.
But Gary's son, Matt, who was only seven when Gary died, is now 30 years old, and needs the surgery. He went in to Hopkins with chest pains and the very doctor on call at the time was Dr. Levy who knows our family's condition well and has worked personally on our case. He saw Matt when he went in (let's just ask "what are the chances?" outside of a God-ordained encounter?) saw that his aorta is dangerously enlarged. Matt is morbidly obese and hasn't had medical intervention prior to this. He is scared, he is questioning eternity, and he needs Jesus. The surgery is just over a month away.
Paul's brother Gerard has taken the lion's share of responsibility and care whenever Matt has had questions about life, death, health, and God. I am grateful for that. Matt's younger brother, Mike, also has great spiritual and physical needs. Naturally having lost their dad and grandmother to this disease is cause for alarm in them. It's a huge megaphone we believe God is using to get their attention.
Please pray for us all. It's hard to think about, to watch family members suffer, but we know it's not the worst news. The worst news has already been announced: they are sinners who have thus far rejected the cross. We pray the best news--that Christ died for them and offers them forgiveness and relationship with Him--lands on open ears.