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Actor Christopher Reeve Dies From Complications of Bedsore

Posted - Oct. 11, 2004 at 9:51 a.m.



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Dr. Kim Mulvihill reporting "Superman" actor Christopher Reeve passed away yesterday at the age of 52. Reeve died from a complication that is common for people living with paralysis.

In May of 1995 Christopher Reeve broke two vetebrae while riding a horse.

The injury left him paralyzed below the neck. Enduring months of therapy to allow him to breath for longer and longer periods without a respirator, Reeve emerged to lobby Congress for better insurance protection against catastrophic injury.

He also became an advocate for stem cell research. His name was even mentioned by Presidential hopeful John Kerry.

Sen. John Kerry/ Presidential Candidate: "Chris Reeve is a friend of mine. Chris Reeve exercises every single day to keep those muscles alive for the day he thinks he will walk again. And I want him to walk again. I think we can save lives."

Reeve went into cardiac arrest on Saturday and fell into a coma. He died yesterday from complications from an infection caused by a bedsore.

People who live with paralysis often develop bedsores. Last week, Reeve developed a serious systemic infection from a bed sore.

To really heal a persistent bedsore, patients often must be hospitalized, have surgery to cut away the damaged skin, and have a new skin flap put in its place. It's six to 12 weeks before they can gradually return to sitting in a wheelchair again.

The alternative is treatment with antibiotics, but spinal cord patients often have had repeated courses of such drugs.

Doctors say it's not hard to get a resistant strain of bacteria that even newer drugs can't cure. And once an infection spreads to the bloodstream, a dangerous condition called sepsis, it can be difficult to treat with any drug.

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