Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds has Died

Lucy Vodden (formerly Lucy O’Donnell), who was the inspiration for The Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” recently died from complications of Systemic Lupus Erythematosis (SLE) or simply lupus as it is generally known. SLE is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks itself because the immune system fails to recognize the difference between the body’s own cells and tissues and”foreign” substances such as the bacteria and viruses that our immune systems normally protect us against.

About 40 years ago, when Lucy O’Donnell was in nursery school, John Lennon’s  son Julian was a classmate. He brought home a picture he had drawn of a girl surrounded by stars. When asked by his father what the picture was, Julian reportedly said “That’s Lucy in the sky with diamonds.” This incident occurred in the period (1965-67) during which the Beatles were experimenting with psychedlic drugs and the title and lyrics of  “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” became a thinly-veiled reference to LSD and its effects.

Julian Lennon remembered Lucy and, when hearing of her five-year struggle with lupus and her deteriorating condition, reached out to help her, telling the Associated Press: “I wasn’t sure at first how to approach her. I wanted at least to get a note to her. Then I heard she had a great love of gardening, and I thought I’d help with something she’s passionate about, and I love gardening too. I wanted to do something to put a smile on her face.”

Lucy Vodden (1963-2009)

Rest in peace, Lucy.

Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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