Frederic Chopin, the great Polish composer and pianist who died at the age of 39 of what had long been believed to be tuberculosis, had a morbid fear of premature burial!
“The earth is suffocating. Swear to make them cut me open, so that I won’t be buried alive”, told Chopin to one of his sisters as he lay on his death bed in 1849.
According to his wish, Chopin’s heart was removed and stored into a crystal jar in what appears to be cognac.
The scientists have now the opportunity to examine his pickled heart to try to solve the mysterious cause of Chopin’s death.
The diagnosis, published in the American Journal of Medicine, suggested causes of his debilitation and death have included the inherited disease cystic fibrosis; alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, a relatively rare genetic ailment that leaves individuals prone to lung infections; and mitral stenosis, a narrowing of the heart valves, informs The Guardian.
“We didn’t open the jar,” team leader Professor Michael Witt of the Polish Academy of Sciences told the Observer. “But from the state of the heart we can say, with high probability, that Chopin suffered from tuberculosis while the complication pericarditis was probably the immediate cause of his death.”
“We found it is still perfectly sealed in the jar,” said Witt. “Some people still want to open it in order to take tissue samples to do DNA tests to support their ideas that Chopin had some kind of genetic condition. That would be absolutely wrong. It could destroy the heart and in any case I am quite sure we now know what killed Chopin.”