The following essay was written by David Fischler, a high school senior in Marietta, Georgia, as part of his college application.

To survive is to carry on despite hardships or trauma. It is an act which is second nature to humanity, but for the past eighteen years not only have I survived but I have prevailed over my hardships, my greatest personal accomplishment. At the age of sixteen days old I was diagnosed with a rare metabolic disorder known as Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD), which affects the liver. Growing up in an age where little was known about this disease I managed to not only survive but to continue to surpass all expectations that were placed upon me. Over the past eighteen years, I have grown and continue to live a fulfilling life under many dietary restrictions and medications. These dietary and medical needs sometimes seem overwhelming. Also, people ask "What is that stuff you take?" or "Why can’t you eat pizza?", but I have always and continue to fight through. With the support of my family, friends, and the Department of Genetics at Emory University, I have been privileged to live a life that only twenty years ago seemed unimaginable for anyone with Maple Syrup Urine Disease. Due to this disorder it has been hard to participate in sports and many other outdoor activities. I dehydrate much faster with more severe consequences than everyone else. Furthermore, I can not get hydrated with water alone and I must drink sugar water, like Gatorade. However, I have been able to participate in activities which others take for granted, like soccer and most recently marching band. Through my protein restrictive diet and many medications, I am proud that I was able to play the sport of soccer for nearly fifteen years on a championship caliber team with my peers, and I continue to be a referee in the sport that I love. Also, I am glad that last year was the first year my doctors would allow me to join my high school’s marching band. I worked hard and felt a sense of achievement when the band won third place at the Band of America Super Regional in Atlanta. This year, I am once again in the band, as I try to continue having as normal a life as possible.

Over the past several years, I have grown to understand my medical condition, studied it, and met others with it. Through these interactions I have learned that I am one of the lucky ones. I could have very easily been mentally retarded by this disorder or worse, but I am not. I have survived. I have survived to live, what so far has been, a happy and fulfilling life surrounded by people who care about me. To live and grow up as well as I have and to not only survive, but prevail over this illness, is by far my greatest personal achievement.

Metformin As A Possible Therapeutic Agent In The Treatment Of MSUD

The MSUD Family Support Group has provided funds to Buck Institute for its preliminary studies investigating metformin

Read More

Galen Carrington Classic MSUD age 27

Galen Carrington is a 27 year old Indiana resident who has classic MSUD. He underwent liver transplantation 5 years ago at Children’s Hospital

Read More

Sweet Odyssey

Artur Santos was born on January 18, 2002, the second son of Soraya and Idario Santos. They never imagined how their lives were about change as the second baby arrived.

Read More

Adjusting Protein In An Adult With MSUD

A little over a year ago, in January, Jeff was just not himself. He had limited energy, was not eating well, and often appeared slightly agitated.

Read More

From The Chairman’s Desk

On July the 21st the MSUD Board of Directors traveled to Bethesda, Maryland for our annual Board meeting. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency in Bethesda.

Read More


In the 2016 survey of the membership of the MSUD Family Support Group, research for improved treatments and potential cure was rated “most important” by 90% of the responding members.

Read More


A Child's Life

Subscribe to our mailing list

Signup To Our Newsletter Signup with your email address to receive news and updates