Ground Zero’s Angel Passes Away; Hundreds More Are Sick by Dena Ventrudo

Many of you may have heard of the heartbreaking story about a nun named Sister Cindy Mahoney who passed away recently. She spent five months at Ground Zero blessing remains at the World Trade Center. When she passed away last week she was granted her dying wish – to be autopsied to prove her lung disease was caused by the toxins she inhaled. Sister Cindy Mahoney, 54 became known as the “Angel of Ground Zero”. She arranged for the autopsy months ago, hoping to help the cause of 9/11 rescue and recovery workers seeking financial aid and medical care. This autopsy could prove that World Trade Center dust was deadly – Mahoney had been a healthy, active, non-smoker. Her lungs were clean when she came to 9/11. Her lawyer, Worby, said 81 of the workers he represents in a class-action suit against the city have died, but none were autopsied. Sister Cindy Mahoney spent nearly every day at Ground Zero. Mahoney suffered chronic obstructive lung disease, asthma, and other respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases common to Ground Zero workers.

According to CNN,

“The city allowed people to return to Manhattan after the collapse of the World Trade Center towers even though officials were told the air was not yet safe, according to an internal memo from a New York City Health Department official.

The October 6, 2001, memo states that the city Office of Emergency Management — called OEM — and the Department of Environmental Protection — referred to as DEP — disagreed over the air quality following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. But it suggests commercial interests trumped safety concerns.” (

Not all government officials and programs are denying rescue workers their medical and financial aide, however.

“Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, introduced legislation that would give new federal health benefits to first responders, recovery workers and residents of lower Manhattan who have developed 9/11-related illnesses.

The 9/11 Comprehensive Health Benefit Act would extend Medicare benefits to people suffering from medical or mental health problems associated with exposure to toxic chemicals at Ground Zero.

A companion bill will be introduced in the Senate by Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York.” (

With a dramatic election just behind us, it will be interesting to see what changes will and will not be made. We can only hope and pray that the conditions of rescue workers and others who made a difference like Sister Cindy Mahoney, are recognized and rewarded with the appropriate treatment.

Until then I ask you to please send all your light and love to those individuals and their famlies.

by Dena Ventrudo
Dena Ventrudo is the Assistant Editor of Merlian News. She is a published poet and creative writer. Dena volunteered as an environmentalist with the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) for three years serving as a project leader, an intern, and a board representative. She has a BA in Liberal Studies.