December 6th, 2011
08:59 AM ET

Human Factor: College athlete battles mitochondrial disease

In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle – injury, illness or other hardship –- they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn’t know they possessed. This week we meet a young man who has battled a metabolic disease since childhood, but fights to not let it interfere with his dreams.

I am a 20-year-old student athlete at the Georgia Institute of Technology. I play college baseball and am challenged every day by mitochondrial disease. 

Mitochondrial disease is an energy production problem. Almost all cells in the body have mitochondria, which are tiny “power plants” that produce the body’s essential energy. 

When the mitochondria don’t function properly, the body has a power failure and can experience brownouts (intense mental and/or physical fatigue, prolonged sicknesses, aka mitochondrial crashes) or even potentially fatal blackouts.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.