I am sad to hear about the passing of Polly Murray, an artist, and a Mom, who was responsible for realizing something was wrong when she and her family, and many children in her neighborhood, suffered from similar symptoms. Polly’s family and neighbors were either unable to be diagnosed by mainstream medicine or were diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. She understood that such a disease cluster did not really make sense, and she was even told her own symptoms were psychological. With unflagging courage, she took on the responsibility of alerting public health officials to the issue. This action and her tenacity initiated an official public health investigation that led to identifying a new disease, later called Lyme disease.
I met with Polly several times over the years and found her to be a lovely person who was caring, and unassuming. She took what she did in stride, although her tremendous contribution to science and role in unmasking this “new” disease was not always acknowledged by the experts.
She, above many, deserves the gratitude of everyone: the public, public health, the experts, patients, and especially our children. Her actions alerted this country to a tremendous problem which no one else recognized. Who knows how many more years would have elapsed until Lyme disease was discovered. She saved lives and human suffering.
The Lyme Disease Association mourns her passing and sends condolences to her family who we know must be proud of her sense of responsibility, her courage, and her leadership in the area of Lyme disease, as well as her caring as a Mom. May she rest in peace.