In the doctor’s office, Ken George sat with sweat trickling down his brow. Each time he’s here, he fears the worst.
In the past 10 years, he’s had a heart attack, clogged airways, lungs scarred by the “9/11 cough,” sleep apnea and post-traumatic stress disorder.
George, 47, a retired Department of Transportation worker, hauled body parts from Ground Zero for six steady months after 9/11. A bill to help him is stuck in Congress — senators plan a last-ditch push this week — but for George, and the growing number of responders sick from the toxic fumes, the doctor’s appointments continue.
His visits didn’t end here. George also sees a psychiatrist, a social worker and a lung specialist.
Some friends, he said, talk of suicide if the bill is not passed. The burden their families bear is too much, they say.
“Would I do it again?” George said. “No, I don’t think I would. Because nobody cares about my family if I die.”
Long-term effects still a mystery
like Ken George’s reflect exposure to toxins, said Dr. Mark Kaufman.
“It’s not by coincidence” that the 9/11 responders he sees suffer from
progressive lung, throat and gastronomical problems, he said: “They
actually burned the insides of their bodies.”
» Nearly 10 years
after 9/11, “None of us knows what the future brings,” Kaufman said
about long-term effects.