Rivers, 81, was hospitalized in New York after she stopped
breathing during outpatient surgery on her vocal cords at a
"On behalf of my mother and our family, we are extremely
grateful for all the love and support we've received. At this
time, she does remain on life support," Melissa Rivers said in a
She added that her mother would be overwhelmed by the kindness
people have shown and thanked everyone for praying for her
Rivers, an actress and stand-up comedian known for her acerbic
brand of humor, has been at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan
Life support is provided to a patient to keep vital organs such
as the brain, heart, lungs, liver and kidneys working. It can
involve medications or devices to keep the heart pumping or a
ventilator to help with breathing.
"Most often when a doctor puts a patient on life support, I
would imagine that means they are on a ventilator and possibly
some other combination for the support for the heart and the
kidneys," Dr. Steven Simpson, a critical care specialist at the
University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, said in an
Although Rivers is 81, he added that age is not as important as
the care given immediately after cardiac arrest.
"What makes much more of a difference is the duration of the
arrest and the success or failure of the initial resuscitation,"
he said. "Statistically age just doesn't weigh as heavily as you
A doctor will gradually wean a patient off life support as the
[to top of second column]
Rivers, who once described herself as the "plastic surgery poster
girl" and joked about her numerous procedures, stopped breathing
after suffering cardiac arrest.
A representative for the comedian said media reports that her family
was planning to sue the endoscopy clinic where she was treated were
During her lengthy career, the husky-voiced, Brooklyn-born comedian
won fame for her put-downs and was known for asking, "Can we talk?"
Rivers wanted to be an actress but got into comedy after writing
sketches for television's "The Ed Sullivan Show." A career in
stand-up followed. She later worked as a regular guest host for
Johnny Carson on NBC's "The Tonight Show."
When she started her own late-night talk show in 1986, on the rival
Fox network, it caused a falling-out with Carson that lasted until
he died in 2005. Rivers' show was canceled after seven months.
Rivers also had an Emmy Award-winning daytime talk show, "The Joan
Rivers Show," and later hosted “Fashion Police,” commenting on the
unfortunate red carpet choices of celebrities.
Rivers won Donald Trump's reality TV show "The Apprentice" in 2009
and starred in the reality TV program "Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows
(Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Additional reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy
in Los Angeles; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Ken Wills)
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