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Joan Rivers lawsuit likely: Rivers dies at 81, week after cardiac arrest

Joan Rivers is near death in coma: Daughter Melissa remains in denial about impending death
Joan Rivers is near death in coma: Daughter Melissa remains in denial about impending death
Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Update: Joan Rivers has passed away at 81 after being taken off life support Sept. 4.

Her daughter, Melissa Rivers, released the following statement: "It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother. She passed peacefully at 1:17pm surrounded by family and close friends. My son [Cooper] and I would like to thank the doctors, nurses, and staff of Mount Sinai Hospital for the amazing care they provided for my mother."

It continued: "Cooper and I have found ourselves humbled by the outpouring of love, support, and prayers we have received from around the world. They have been heard and appreciated. My mother's greatest joy in life was to make people laugh. Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon.

Update: Joan Rivers' autopsy inconclusive as to cause of death: Investigation continues

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Joan Rivers remains on life support Sept. 2 as her family has decided not to turn off life support yet.

While Joan's daughter, Melissa, is holding out hope her mom will recover, experts say the legendary comedian may remain in a persistent vegetative state or be wheelchair-bound for the rest of her days if she ever regains consciousness.

Rivers was brought out of a medically induced coma Aug. 31 and is breathing with the help of a life support machine. Her family had considered turning off life support on Sept. 2 to see if she can breathe on her own, but decided against it.

Rivers, 81, was placed in a medically induced coma Aug. 28 after going into cardiac and respiratory arrest during a routine throat surgery. Her family is so upset she stopped breathing during a routine operation they're considering filing a malpractice lawsuit against Yorkville Endoscopy in Manhattan.

“Shock and upset is turning to anger, and they are looking for someone to blame," a source told the NY Daily News. “The night before, she was performing and now she is on life support. An 81-year-old should not have that procedure as an outpatient. Very ill-advised.”

Brain Damage Likely: Rivers Could Be a 'Vegetable'

Joan's only child, daughter Melissa Rivers, is holding a grim vigil with friends and family at Manhattan's Mount Sinai Hospital.

“The waking-up process has begun and will take until Tuesday,” said a source. “There is real concern that the part of the brain that controls motor skills may have been compromised, leaving her as either a vegetable or in a wheelchair.”

Because of Joan's advanced age, the chances of her regaining consciousness and returning to health are grim, but sources said Melissa is "in denial" about the seriousness of her mom's health.

“She still thinks everything is going to be OK," said a source. "She is refusing to admit that a world might exist without her mother in it. Others that are close to Joan are starting to realize that the outcome they want is very unlikely.”

Sources said Rivers has specifically stated that she wants to live “a full and active life ... and would never want to be a burden on anyone.”

Faces Months of Physical Therapy, May Never Walk Again

Medically induced comas are usually reserved for traumatic brain injury. The goal is to slow down swelling that puts pressure on the brain and causes damage.

It's unclear the extent of brain damage Joan suffered. If she survives, she could face weeks or months of physical therapy to regain motor skills, or she could be permanently impaired.

In 2013, Rivers revealed that doctors had discovered a suspicious spot in her throat. The scene was captured on her reality show, “Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?” Rivers had an X-ray taken after suffering a persistent cough. It's unclear whether that incident is related to her latest health scare.

Rivers is no stranger to hospitals or surgeries. Over the years, she has been honest about the numerous plastic surgeries she has undergone, including several nose jobs, facelifts, brow lifts, liposuction, Botox injections, and chemical peels.

Unlike other Hollywood celebrities who hide and vehemently deny their plastic surgeries, Joan said she doesn't regret her numerous cosmetic surgery procedures over the years, saying they improved her appearance and her life. "If you can fix it, fix it," said Rivers. "If it makes you happier, I don’t care what anyone says."

In April 2014, Rivers appeared on the Dr. Oz Show, where she revealed her anti-aging secret is to stay busy, write at least one new joke a day, and do crossword puzzles to keep her mind active.

Joan's daughter, Melissa, said her mother has gotten less inhibited with age, and that living with her is very trying. Melissa, 46, is Joan's daughter with her late husband, producer Edgar Rosenberg. Rosenberg committed suicide in 1987.