Tag Archives: Six Degrees of Separation

What are the odds?

Calendar & Directories Editor Mala Blomquist calls it the “Six Degrees of Mary Holden.” Almost any time one of us mentions the name of someone we’ve talked to, Mary’s got some sort of connection.

Assistant Editor Mary L. Holden.

Mary is Six Degrees of Separation personified — packed into a tiny frame with a fierce intellect, a compassionate heart and the networking skills of a politician.

It doesn’t hurt that she was born and raised in Phoenix, so her institutional memory goes deep.

Last weekend, Mary took her daughter Annie, a freshman at the University of Washington (who was home for spring break) to San Diego to visit her godmother, Margaret McLaughlin, and some friends from UW who also live there.

In the middle of one visit, Mary happened to mention the story she wrote for this month’s magazine: “Casting a Light on the Shadow of Abuse.” She mentioned the name of the physician/researcher who had done groundbreaking work that is helping medical professionals understand and respond to the long-term implications of child abuse.

At that moment, Mary felt Annie’s godmother’s hand on her shoulder.

“Dr. Felitti? Dr. Vincent Felitti?” McLaughlin asked.

It turns out that Felitti had diagnosed McLaughlin with hemochromatosis (a disorder that interferes with the body’s ability to break down iron) in the early 1990s. He treated her condition and she even participated in one of the studies Felitti did on genetic indicators for the disease.

“She spoke very highly of Dr. Felliti and in fact credited him for saving her life,” Mary said. “Some might say that it’s a small world. Some might say that this is just an interesting coincidence. But I think this connection is truly fascinating, and I love it when things like this happen.”

Mary sent a copy of our April issue to Dr. Felliti with a personal letter recounting the coincidence. “I am very honored to have helped spread the news of the ACE study,” she wrote, ” and I deeply thank you for saving the life of my daughter’s godmother.” — Karen