Mary Lou Retton’s daughter had to say ‘goodbyes’ to mother in ICU

In a recent interview, Olympic gymnastics icon Mary Lou Retton fearlessly disclosed the specifics of her near-fatal medical event from the previous year.

The 55-year-old is speaking up for the first time since last fall, when she was suffering a terrible case of pneumonia and felt like she was going to die in her eyes.

Retton, 55, said to Today’s Hoda Kotb, “I am blessed to be here because there was a time when they were about to put me on life support.”

“Oh yes, it felt great to win the Olympics,” is how I always answer interviews. Retton stated that throughout the interview, she was utilizing portable oxygen. “This is life, and it’s serious.”

Retton also shared the painful times when her girls thought they would be saying farewell for the last time in the hospital. The gifted athlete opened out about her battle with a rare kind of pneumonia that left her oxygen-dependent, potentially forever, in an emotional interview.

On the morning of a scheduled “girls trip” with her daughter Emma Jean to watch Emma’s boyfriend play football for the University of Arkansas, Retton passed out in her bedroom, starting the terrifying adventure. The beginning of her difficult trip began when a friend noticed her car in the driveway with the door open. She was hurried to the emergency hospital.


According to Retton, “I didn’t know what was wrong with me,” as reported by Entertainment Tonight. She was initially admitted to the hospital, discharged, but her oxygen levels quickly dropped, necessitating a quick trip back to the hospital. Shayla Schrepfer, Retton’s daughter, summarised her mother’s quick decline as follows: “Things just went south really, really fast.”

Schrepfer, McKenna Kelley, and Skyla Kelley were three of Retton’s kids with whom a doctor had an important chat that evening. The potential of taking the next crucial action for Retton’s health was considered by the physician. The doctor, not knowing if their mother would live, urged the sisters to take her to the hospital immediately while Emma Jean was away at college.


According to Schrepfer, the doctor had stated at the time, “We don’t know if she’s going to make it through the night.”

LOS ANGELES – AUGUST 1984: From July 30 to August 3, 1984, the Women’s Gymnastics competition at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games took place in Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, California. Mary Lou Retton of the USA waved to the fans. (Image by Getty Images/David Madison))

“They were saying their goodbyes to me,” Retton recalled, describing the poignant moment her daughters felt they may lose her. Thankfully, Emma showed there that evening, and a new breathing machine that supplied high-flow oxygen via her nose let her breathe easier. Retton was spared from needing to be placed on a ventilator as a result, and she recovered over time, eventually being discharged from the hospital after a month.

Even after Retton recovered, the source of his enigmatic disease is still a mystery. She had negative results for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the flu, and COVID-19. The confused Olympian thanked everyone for their support and affection, telling Kotb that she had never had lung problems before.

Retton remarked, “I just thought I was a washed-up old athlete, but the love touched me.” “Now that I’m alive and I made it through, there’s so many more positives than negatives,” she continued, reflecting on her survival.

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