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Alzheimer's leaves marine with new mission: saving his daughter




Andres Martin, a 31
-year-old Marine, is at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for a rare form of Alzheimer's disease that affects people with roots in Jalisco, Mexico. He worries his daughter, Alexis, who is not yet 2, so wants to have it. (Sarah L. Voisin / The Washington Post)

Andres Martin was on the couch in his Maryland home Alzheimer's.

They think of 70-year-olds and 80-year-olds, he said. They have already lived full lives. People who have had children and maybe grandchildren.

"This is not what it is," said Martin.

"This," he said, gesturing toward his daughter toddler. is Alzheimer's right here. "

" Not yet 2 years old, she looked at him and smiled. "

" Weeeee! "she said, as if she were on a ride.

Martin's daughter, Alexis, has not been tested yet. But the 31-year-old father has reason to fear the worst: he has it. His father had it. And his daughter has a 50 percent chance of developing it.

"I'm making it my personal struggle to find a cure for Alexis," Martin said. "Alexis wants to be in a good spot."

"Everything," he said, "is for Alexis."


Alexis, who is not yet 2, has a 50 percent chance of carrying Alzheimer's has linked to early-onset Alzheimer's. (Sarah L. Voisin / The Washington Post)

More knowledge generally means fewer unknowns. That's not true for the Martin family.

Last year, Martin was a pilot for the Marine Corps, stationed in Hawaii. Then his sister sent him an article and suddenly changed his life. He stopped flying helicopters. He eventually moved to Maryland to attend Walter Reed's National Military Medical Center. And he took on a new mission: to bring Alzheimer's.

The article about the "Jalisco mutation," a genetic mutation that affects people with roots in the region of Mexico and has been linked to early-onset Alzheimer's , When Martin read it, he finally understood why his father, while in his 40s, started forgetting things to the point that he had to quit his job as a welder and could no longer drive familiar routes without getting confused. He finally understood why his father had died at the age of 51.

Shortly after reading the article, Martin decided to get tested for the gene. In September 2017, he and his wife, Amanda, met with a doctor to hear the results.

She remains optimistic. He braced himself for the worst.

"That's the lowest for us," Amanda Martin said. "Just knowing that it's possible that my husband and my daughter could really get sick is hard. Ten years from now or five years from now, how's our life going to change? Is he going to be completely sick? It's possible.

So it has raised questions for Martin's two sisters, so who could carry the gene. His sister, Elizabeth Martin, is a 24-year-old police officer in California.

"I'm not scared of being a yes," she said said of her test results.


Andres Martin, a 31-year-old Marine, sits at his Maryland home with his wife, Amanda, 30, left, his daughter, Alexis , and his sister Elizabeth Martin, 24.

The Martin family wanted to share their story because they believe their best chance of combating the disease – Alexis is an adult – will come through awareness.

Alzheimer's and the Jalisco genes have been set up for the early-onset education of young people. Alzheimer's Experts to Mexico discuss the disease.

"It's looking at under-addressed health disparity among Latinos," said Jason Resendez, the executive director of Latinos Against Alzheimer's. "We've certainly made great efforts to address things like heart diseases and diabetes. Alzheimer's is just in that same conversation. "

Latinos in the United States are 50 percent more probable to develop Alzheimer's than non-Latino whites, and they remain underrepresented in clinical trials, he said.

"Mexican Americans present symptoms seven years earlier than other ethnic groups, "Resendez said. "Why is that? Alzheimer's Risks Among Different Ethnicities. "

Martin has participated in a clinical trial. John Ringman is with Alzheimer's researcher and expert on the Jalisco mutation.

Ringman said he had about 70 different families so far that have the mutation. What's the worst thing? 54. More common, he said, is for symptoms in their 40s.

Based on his father's experience, Martin believes he has 10 more years

Walter Reed learns how to stimulate mental activity .

So he tries not to think about what he can not control.

"I've been trying to kill myself," he explained. "Why help it? If I'm depressed, I'm helping it. If I do not sleep, I'm helping it. "

He would rather, he said, focus on what he can do.

What do you mean? loves to do ballerina twirls and can count to three in English and Spanish could one day, without a cure or slow to the disease's progression, be lost to Alzheimer's.

What he can do is pick up, clutch forth


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