September 01, 2006

Bob O'Connor Dead At 61

PITTSBURGH -- Mayor Bob O'Connor died today at UPMC Shadyside hospital, where he had been battling a rare form of cancer for nearly two months. He was 61.

According to the city charter, City Council President Luke Ravenstahl becomes mayor in the event of death. There has been no word on when a swearing-in ceremony will be held, but at 26, Ravenstahl would be the youngest mayor in Pittsburgh history.

O'Connor was diagnosed with primary central nervous system lymphoma on July 10. Doctors found four small tumors on his brain and began chemotherapy.

The chemo failed to shrink the tumors, so doctors changed their approach and quickly began whole-brain radiation, followed by intensity-modulated radiation therapy that directly targeted the affected part of O'Connor's brain.

O'Connor's medical team said brain scans on Sunday night and Monday indicated seizure activity, and tests showed that infection may have involved his drain and spinal fluid.

He underwent a 30-minute surgical procedure Monday evening in which a drain to remove fluid buildup from his brain was replaced with a new antibiotics-coated drain, the hospital said.

Listed in serious condition after the surgery, O'Connor's condition apparently worsened quickly.

After 3 p.m. Tuesday, the hospital and a mayoral spokesman stopped providing the twice-daily media updates that had been common earlier in O'Connor's illness.

During the mayor's hospitalization, many Pittsburghers showed their support by signing a large "Get Well" sign outside the City-County Building downtown.

More than 10,000 black-and-gold rubber bracelets with the saying "Everybody's Mayor ... Bob O'Connor" were sold throughout the city. Proceeds from the $2 wristbands benefited the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

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