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Joan Rivers clings to life: Brain damage possible after medically induced coma

Joan Rivers rushed to hospital after she stopped breathing during throat surgery
Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Update Sept. 5: Joan Rivers dies at 81, lawsuit likely and death being investigated


Joan Rivers remains in "serious condition" after being placed in a medically induced coma, her daughter Melissa said in a statement through a rep.

"I want to thank everyone for the overwhelming love and support for my mother," the statement read. "She is resting comfortably and is with our family. We ask that you continue to keep her in your thoughts and prayers."

Rivers was upgraded from critical to stable condition after suffering a cardiac arrest during throat surgery on Aug. 28. Joan, 81, was getting surgery on her vocal chords at Yorkville Endoscopy clinic on Manhattan's Upper East Side when she stopped breathing and was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital at 10 am ET.

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.

Doctors had wanted to bring Rivers out of the coma this weekend, but she took a turn for the worse and is now on life support. It's uncertain the extent of brain damage Joan suffered, if any. 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.

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.

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."

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.

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