With great sadness, the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) shares news of the passing of one of its founders. Patricia “Pat” Paton, 83, died Sunday, July 19 in Bonita Springs, Florida.
Pat was diagnosed in December 1987 with what was known as primary pulmonary hypertension. At the time, fewer than 200 cases had been recorded in the United States. In Pat’s case, after two years of constant fatigue and fainting, she sought a second opinion at one of the few hospitals that followed patients like Pat. Forty-eight hours later, she had her diagnosis. She was given six weeks to six months to live and was sent home.
Pat and her husband Jerry, who passed away in January 2020, looked at their lives and decided to make the most of their remaining time together. They sold their Indiana home and business and moved to Florida in 1990.
Pat, along with her sister Judy Simpson and Teresa Knazik and Dorothy Olson, formed PHA in 1991 at the now-legendary kitchen table organizational meeting. For the next eight years, the group, then known as the United Patients Association of Pulmonary Hypertension, was run entirely by volunteers who often worked at their kitchen tables.
Pat called or wrote to anyone with PH the fledging organization learned about. She tracked their locations with pins on a large U.S. map from her Florida home. When patients wanted to network, she asked them to sign releases before sharing their names with others who had PH. Within two years, the organization had grown large enough that she no longer could personally contact every member.
Creation of Patricia “Pat” Paton Leadership Award
PHA is honored to share the formation of the “Patricia “Pat” Paton Leadership Award.” The award recognizes Pat’s community-based leadership style and her belief that “from the actions of one emerge possibilities for many.”
As we mourn Pat’s passing, the family hopes you will continue her commitment to PHA by contributing to the Patricia “Pat” Paton Leadership Award.