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Joan Rivers stops breathing, rushed to hospital after having cardiac arrest

Comedienne Joan Rivers was rushed to a New York hospital Thursday when her heart stopped beating during surgery, police say. The 81-year-old comic reportedly was in critical condition for a brief period, but the scare passed and Fox News reported Aug. 29 that by Friday morning she was being listed in stable condition and resting comfortably.

TMZ reported Thursday that Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City when she suddenly stopped breathing on the operating table during surgery at a private clinic. The surgery was being performed on her vocal chords, the gossip website uncovered.

A 911 call at the time (9:39 a.m. EST) recorded an unknown individual saying, "We have somebody in either cardiac or respiratory arrest." That "somebody" would turn out to be the ever suffering queen of the cut-down.

TMZ would later update the story, citing the New York Police Department as the informer that Rivers was in critical condition, that her heart had at one point stopped beating, and there wasn't enough information to ascertain whether or not the comic's heart had been restarted.

But an even later update would bring promising news. Joan Rivers' daughter, Melissa, released a statement letting the world know that her mother was "resting comfortably."

CNN spoke with, Michael Lucas, a fan of Rivers' who attended her show at New York's Beechman Theater Wednesday night, and he said she had seemed in good health. He said she didn't seem to stop to take breath during her hour-plus routine and even joked about her own impending death.

"She said, 'You know I'm 81 years old, and I could drop dead at any moment and you would be so lucky because you will have a story to tell your friends for the rest of your life,'" Lucas told CNN. "Then she mimicked people talking about what it was like to see her drop dead on stage."

She was to perform at the Count Basie Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey, on Friday night but, at least for now, she'll have to trade barbs with the nurses and doctors at Mount Sinai. Or perhaps she'll keep making people laugh, just like she has done since beginning her showbiz career in the 1950s (alongside a then unknown Barbra Streisand in a small play), supplying a few topical jabs via Twitter.

Her last non-promoting tweet also came on Wednesday, hours before the show Michael Lucas attended: "A man reportedly got his finger bitten off at a Beyoncé concert! The shocking twist: It wasn't Jay Z's finger and it wasn't by Solange."

The indomitable Joan Rivers will likely depart the Earth with a joke on her lips, making people laugh. Fortunately for the world, there were some quick-acting medical health professionals around to ensure she'll still be able to tell a few more.