Actor Jeff Conaway Another Victim of Sepsis


June 4th, 2011

Other famous people touched by this illness as well

June 4, 2011 – Actor Jeff Conaway is now one of the many Americans who have died of sepsis. Originally hospitalized on May 11 for what was thought to be a drug overdose, the 60-year-old Conaway, best known for his roles in Grease and Taxi, developed pneumonia and sepsis. He died on May 27, 2011.

It is often reported that people “died of complications of pneumonia,” so it is striking that the media is reporting that Conaway died of sepsis. As James O’Brien, MD, an intensive care physician at The Ohio State University Medical Center and a member of Sepsis Alliance’s board of directors, says, “If someone dies of an infection, that someone has died of sepsis.”

Conaway isn’t the only celebrity to be touched by sepsis. Some have died, while others survived, but only after battling against the often fatal illness.

In March of this year, singer Lily Allen developed sepsis after delivering a still-born son at six months gestation. According to news reports, her condition was quite touch-and-go for a while. Allen did recover and there has been no more news about her condition. In developed countries, sepsis in pregnancy is not as common as it used to be, but it still happens, as we saw with Allen.

Also in March, the writing community lost Jonathan Rowe, a longtime contributor to YES! magazine. He had no previous signs or symptoms of anything – “just” a headache and a fever. He died the next day of sepsis. Unfortunately, it was reported as “rare,” which is not true.

Still in 2011, in February, baseball fans who remember the Montreal Expos may remember pitcher Ron Piche. At the age of 75, he was battling cancer and he died of sepsis in his Montreal home. Cancer and sepsis are not an uncommon pair. Piche was a bullpen coach and scout for the Expos, but he pitched for the Milwaukee Braves, California Angels and St. Louis Cardinals.

Other famous people who were reported to have sepsis in 2011 include Illinois’ former first lady, Lura Lynn Ryan, who was in ICU for three weeks after developing sepsis during cancer treatment; British singer Trish Keenan, who had pneumonia that developed into sepsis; and 1996 Olympic discus gold medal winner, Ilke Wyludda, had her right leg amputated to save her life when sepsis took hold following an infection in her leg after surgery.

Other famous people who have been touched by sepsis include:

Jim Hensen died from sepsis after developing pneumonia;
Mariana Bridi Costa, a Brazilian model, died of sepsis after developing a UTI;
Pope John-Paul II died of sepsis after having a UTI;
Singer Etta James has been hospitalized twice for sepsis following a UTI;
Actor Christopher Reeve died of sepsis that developed after a bed sore became infected.