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May 26, 2024

Mary Lou Retton Details Near-Death Battle with Rare Pneumonia

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Jan 8, 2024

Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton has broken her silence about the life-threatening bout of pneumonia that left her hospitalized in intensive care last month. In her first interview since being discharged, Retton said she feels “blessed to be alive” after the harrowing health scare.

Dramatic Decline Leads to Emergency Hospitalization

On December 12th, Retton’s next-door neighbor found the 56-year-old gymnast collapsed on her bedroom floor struggling to breathe. Retton had fallen gravely ill with pneumonia in both lungs which continued to worsen for over a week. Her condition deteriorated so rapidly that she was rushed to a nearby Texas hospital on December 20th.

At the time of her admission, Retton had lost her ability to walk due to muscle weakness and low oxygen levels. Doctors diagnosed her with an extremely rare and aggressive form of bacterial pneumonia that caused extensive lung damage. She was quickly moved to the intensive care unit (ICU) as her organs began shutting down.

“I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t stand,” Retton told NBC’s Today show. “It was just deteriorating by the minute.”

Touch-And-Go Battle For Survival in the ICU

Retton remained in intensive care for eight days as doctors tried various treatments to save her life. At one point, she had to be resuscitated after her heart stopped beating.

“The doctors told me that this could go either way,” said Retton. “I might not make it.”

Her condition became so dire that doctors prepared to put her on a ventilator. She was just moments away from being intubated when she suddenly stabilized after responding to antibiotic therapy.

Still, Retton’s family braced for the worst possible outcome. Her daughters even said their goodbyes as Retton clung to life in the ICU.

“We didn’t know if I was going to live or die,” she admitted.

Treatment Result
IV antibiotics Stabilized after near-resuscitation
Oxygen therapy Helped boost falling levels to 92% saturation
Steroids Reduced inflammation allowing recovery of organ function

Overflow of Community Support

As word of Retton’s hospitalization spread, there was an immense outpouring of emotional and financial assistance for the uninsured Olympic champion. The Fairmont, West Virginia native had been unable to afford health insurance after losing her celebrity endorsement deals.

A GoFundMe campaign started by Retton’s family raised over $459,000 to cover her steep medical bills. Hundreds of fans left heartfelt messages wishing her a speedy recovery.

“The support has been unbelievable,” said Retton. “I can’t thank everyone enough.”

The fundraiser allowed Retton to focus all her energy on recovering without the financial stress, although she hopes to obtain insurance coverage again soon.

Signs of Improvement But Long Road Ahead

After starting to respond to treatment, Retton was discharged from intensive care on December 28th. She spent another week in a regular hospital room before finally going home on January 4th.

While at home, Retton is still on supplemental oxygen and continuing powerful antibiotic therapy. She has a visiting nurse helping with further treatment and physical rehabilitation.

“I couldn’t walk up the stairs in my house for the first few days,” Retton explained. “I still get winded doing simple tasks. The road back is long, but I’m up for the challenge.”

As a fierce competitor her entire career, Retton maintains a positive mindset during convalescence. She credits her fighting spirit and resilient nature for pulling through.

“I’m a fighter – I always have been,” said Retton. “My goal now is to get my lung capacity back to 100%.”

Doctors expect a full recovery within three months barring any setbacks. There is hope Retton can make public appearances again by the summer.

Conclusion

Retton realizes how narrowly she escaped tragedy thanks to the quick actions of her neighbor, the life-saving care from doctors, and the unwavering support from fans.

While still confronting residuals from the pneumonia battle, her characteristic perseverance and grit gives Retton continued optimism. She looks forward to soon inspiriting people once more with her passion for gymnastics.

“I’m so grateful to be alive,” Retton remarked. “I plan to make the most of this second chance.”

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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