Rare Disease Day: Fabio Beggiato suffers from little-known ailment

Local restauranteur Fabio Beggiato owns Darlington House and co-owns the Cleveland Park Bar & Grill, but the successful business and family man has also been plagued by health problems.

In July 2010, Beggiato collapsed and began suffering from mysterious rashes and lesions and suffering from bone pain.

A doctor in Switzerland diagnosed him with Mastocytosis, and nine months later, Beggiato's American doctors agreed.

The disease is characterized by too many mast cells, which are known for their role in allergy and anaphylaxis. The symptoms, which also include abdominal pain and and skeletal lesions, can be triggered by heat, cold, stress, pollen, and food, according to the Mastocytosis Society.

"No cure, just lots of pills," said Beggiato.

PHOTOS: See pictures of other rare diseases.

February 29 is Rare Disease Day, an annual call for action against lesser-known ailments afflicting millions of Americans. Mastocytosis is just one of 6,800 rare diseases affecting 30 million Americans, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders.

Beggiato's daughter, Allesandra Beggiato, made a video in support of her father honoring Rare Disease Day 2012. Watch it here.

Beggiato is now participating in clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health. He and his wife wear a denim ribbon, a symbol for the Global Genes Project, which fights such rare diseases.

"I'll be strong and do whatever it takes," Beggiato said.

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