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Captain Sean Donahue
(from testimony before the New York City Council)


I am the commander of the 1/106th Aviation Maintenance Detachment of the US Army. I am also an independent contractor in New York.

On September 11, I was working as a computer consultant near the World Trade Center. When the attacks occurred, I went to the WTC, leaving just as the towers collapsed.

I returned later in the day with a group of military volunteers and stayed there until the evening of September 12.

During this entire period, we were engulfed in deep smoke and airborne soot. As we now know, the materials that were burning at this time included PCBs, jet fuel, diesel fuel and electrical fluid.

I remained in the Manhattan area from September 15 until March 2002, and was continuously exposed to smoke, dust and airborne particles.

My symptoms began immediately. On September 16th, I was sent to St. Vincentís hospital because I could not breathe.

I developed a variety of chronic physical conditions, including shortness of breath, skin rashes, severe stomach and chest pain and chronic nausea, vomiting and diahrrea.

My mental condition also deteriorated. In February 2002, I experienced a complete flashback of the events of September 11 while watching the Superbowl. I was reliving the events as if they had just happened again.

I was badly shaken by this, and was referred to an Army chaplain and a psychiatrist. The help that I received from them was appreciated, but it did not cause a change in my condition.

I was unable to concentrate. I was forced to discontinue my work as a computer consultant. I would arrive at a job site and then space out, unable to orient myself to the job.

My outlook on life was constantly bad. I was unable to get up in the morning.
I was relying on 10 medications, 4 inhalers and 6 different pills just to get me through the day.

My condition continued to deteriorate throughout 2002 and 2003. In December, the Army revoked my flight orders. Not only was this a serious personal setback, it means that the Army lost an investment of about $3 million in my flight training.

A few weeks ago, I reached the point where the only remaining medical option was for me to begin taking full body steroids.

As bad as I felt, I did not want this to happen. I knew that if it did, I would be permanently disabled.

My doctors at Mt. Sinai were aware of the detoxification program and suggested that I give it a try. To say that they have been amazed by the results is putting it mildly.

When I arrived for treatment a few weeks ago, I could not walk up a flight of stairs. Today I can run three miles.

My chronic cough is gone. I no longer need any medication. I have a new outlook on life. There is no stress.

I was without hope before I began detoxification. I still face some obstacles, but now I am confident that I will be able to overcome them.

It is going to take hard work, but I believe that I will be able to regain the ability to fly for the Army. The biggest obstacle, the one that I saw no way to overcome, is now behind me.

This program was everything that I was told it would be. Until just a few weeks ago, I was facing a lifetime of suffering. That is behind me now, and I have told Dr. McNeil and her staff that I intend to help them spread the word about this treatment.

(Note: Since his testimony, Captain Donahue has returned to active duty. He served in Iraq and in the post-Katrina rescue efforts. He has been promoted to the rank of Major.)


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