Sudden and unexplained deaths of the young have always haunted the people of the Faroe Islands. Boys and girls in their early twenties have passed away sleeping or dancing. Their hearts have simply stopped beating.
The reason for the mysterious deaths was found in the late 1990s. It was a rare inherited genetical disorder called carnitine transporter deficiency, CTD, which is a gene mutation. People with CTD can´t absorb fat in their body cells and therefore hearts can´t get the energy they need. So hearts fail. There are no elderly people with the deathliest mutation of CTD because they have all died young.
Since 2009 the Faroese have had a possibility to test their carnitine levels for the gene mutation. Around 31 000 people have had the test so far. It is known that at least some 150 people in the Faroe Islands have the deathly mutation of CTD. From a total of 50 000 inhabitants it makes one in every 300. CTD is 1000 times more common in the Faroe Islands than anywhere else in the world. As many as one in eight are carriers of the gene. More people are found monthly.
In the remote islands, thousands of kilometres from the continent, the gene pool has naturally been very limited. Everyone is somehow related and most people have their family trees tracked down all the way to the vikings. The deathly gene has had a change to evolve over generations.