Pat O'Connor, 2006 Appreciation Award
How many of you have heard of the awarding winning website “Lymphedema People”. Our honoree, for the 2006 LLN Appreciation Award, officially “opened” this site in December 2003. The website continues to explode throughtout the world and anticipates its millionth visitor. The site sponsors 12 online support groups in 3 countries and maintains a dozen medical blogs on Lymphedema and related medical conditions. He graduated from Portland State University where he served two terms as student body President.
Pat, a twin, was born in 1952 with leg swelling. He was taken from hospital to hospital as the doctors tried to figure out and diagnose what was wrong. In his own words, “My Life is an example of what can happen when Lymphedema is incorrectly treated, or not treated at all. But is also, I hope, an example of what you can do and what a full and exciting life you can have, even with Lymphedema.”.
Eventually, he was diagnosed with Milroy’s Disease, a hereditary form of Lymphedema. From 1971 to 1973, he has three nine-hour Thompson procedures and numerous skin grafts. These were radical debulking procedures. In 1989, he moved to Atlanta, But it was in 1995 that his life changed dramatically. He discovered a perfect red round spot growing on the calf of his left leg. After the biopsy, it was diagnosed as Mixed B Cell lymphoma. Since 1997, he has loss approximately 75% of the efficiency of his immune system.
His life changed significantly in 2000 when he attended a conference sponsored by the Lighthouse Lymphedema Network. For 47 years, he had never known or met or even talked to another person with Lymphedema. He was sitting in a room full of people who had the same condition or treated this condition.
In 2002, his health started to get progressively worse. He now suffers from almost constant cellulitis, spends house in the emergency room, hospitalizations and additional complications. Unfortunately 2006 has proved to be a challenging year because he is experiencing extensive all over body Lymphedema.
Pat is a member of the LLN Board of Director and is one of our biggest supporters. He serves with the Lymphedema Stakeholders working for Lymphedema patient rights at the Federal level.
Thanks you Pat for educating others about Lymphedema through your website. It is our honor to present you with the 2006 appreciation Award.