As her daughter Melissa makes arrangements for Joan Rivers’ funeral, initial results about the comedienne’s autopsy failed to find a cause of death. But what killed Rivers?
The New York City Medical Examiner’s Office charged with conducting a post-mortem on the remains of Joan Rivers, did not uncover any telltale signs on why the 81-year-old beloved entertainer passed away suddenly.
Julie Bolcer, spokesperson with the NYC ME’s office said early results of the death investigation are inconclusive. Therefore, the “cause and manner” of Joan Rivers’ death will depend on additional tissue and toxicology reports, wrote a New York Daily News report.
Rivers died Friday, one day after the decision was made to place her on life support. Wednesday, Joan’s daughter released a statement about her mother’s status, saying that she was moved into a private room.
“My mother has been moved out of intensive care and into a private room where she is being kept comfortable. Thank you for your continued support. Melissa Rivers.”
Thursday, at the Yorkville Endoscopy, Joan stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest while undergoing a “routine” operation on her vocal cords. CPR was performed, and she began breathing. But sources say, by then, she was in bad shape.
For six days, Rivers remained at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital on life-support in intensive care. At the week’s mark, she was discharged from ICU, but remained critical. The next day, Joan Rivers was dead.
The autopsy is routine in sudden deaths that don’t have an obvious cause, and are not due to the celebrity of Rivers, as some suggest. While some presuppose that Rivers’ cause of death is due to Propofol, the anesthesia drug linked to the death of pop king Michael Jackson, one doctor dismissed the claim and has another theory that may assist in the autopsy and death probe.
Dr Lillian Glass is known in Hollywood for providing voice training to a number of A-listers. Her resume includes training for Sean Connery, Nicholas Cage, Dustin Hoffman, Will Smith and others.
Dr. Glass has a personal history with Rivers. In 1987, she provided medical treatment for Joan after the icon was diagnosed with vocal cord stress. She has a number of questions and concerns about procedures performed at the clinic.
“It is devastating for Joan’s family. She apparently went in for a diagnostic procedure and even if something natural – such as cardiac arrest – happened, why wasn’t she saved?
Where were the trained medical staff and the equipment to help her? We have equipment on planes, why wasn’t the right equipment in a medical facility?
Why was she deprived of oxygen for so long when there were doctors there trained to deal with emergencies? Joan was 81 but she was so vibrant, so full of energy. It is a tragedy.
Why was she deprived of oxygen for so long when there were doctors there trained to deal with emergencies?
If this was just a diagnostic test or small procedure, she would have received the sort of anesthetic you need for a routine tooth extraction. She would have been awake and sitting upright. The doctor needs her to be alert. The patient needs to be able to say ‘ah’ so that he can see how her vocal cords react.
This is essentially a simple, pain-free procedure. How did Joan end up dead after something so simple?”
The clinic’s website said that endoscopy procedures are routine and do not require any form of anesthesia for patients. And because Joan Rivers was apparently in good health, according to a family member, it’s odd that she suddenly went into respiratory distress during the procedure.
“So if Joan was going through this simple, non-invasive, non-life threatening procedure, is should not have happened. This was a needless death.
Why was her airway cut off? Did someone do the procedure improperly? Was a technician doing this or a licensed physician? I ask these questions because it seems odd that her airway was cut off,” added Dr. Glass.
These are all fair questions that may be answered in the advanced testing phase as part of Joan Rivers’ autopsy.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, the New York State Department of Health announced an investigation on the clinic that performed the surgery on Rivers. At this time, there is no indication any foul play took place, but the probe is still underway.
The facility opened 18 months ago and has about a dozen or so highly-skilled gastroenterology professionals on staff, according to the site.
“As featured in The New York Times, from 2003 through the present he has been selected annually by his peers as a “Top Doctor” in New York in the field of gastroenterology.”
Joan Rivers’ final autopsy results could take weeks to determine a cause of death. According to Melissa, her mom’s funeral is Sunday in Manhattan.
[Image via MassLive]