Local News

September 11, 2013

Supervisor overcomes rare disorder

ELIZABETHTOWN — Monday marked the return of Westport Supervisor Daniel Connell after he was stricken with a rare virus that attacks memory T-cells in the brain.

He was greeted with a round of applause as he took his seat at the Essex County Board of Supervisors meeting in Elizabethtown’s Old County Courthouse.

He recounted how his memory began failing until he reached the point he could not think coherently.

“I’d like to thank you all for your cards, phone calls, prayers and concerns,” he told his fellow lawmakers. “I can’t tell you how much this has meant to me.”

He said doctors told him fewer than 20 people worldwide have ever been diagnosed with the auto-immune disorder he had.

“I contracted a virus that caused my auto-immune system to interact with itself. I have had extensive medical treatment for this condition.”


Connell said his memory losses got worse and worse, until his wife, Lucy, bundled him into the car and made a late-night drive to the emergency room at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington.

“He woke me up,” she said after the meeting. “He said he couldn’t remember anything. Something was wrong.”

At Fletcher Allen, Mr. Connell was placed under the care of neurologist Dr. Waqar Waheed, who began running tests over a period of several days. He sent blood samples to the Mayo Clinic for analysis, then discharged Mr. Connell to await the results.

“When the bloodwork came back, Dr. Waheed called and said, ‘Pack your bags,’” Mrs. Connell said. “I could see there was something radically wrong.”


Back at Fletcher Allen, Mr. Connell was admitted and treated with the anti-inflammatory drug Prednisone and given intravenous immunoglobulin.

The town supervisor, 68, said he soon started to feel better.

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