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Joan Rivers dies days after surgery complications

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Photo: David Shankbone/ Wikimedia via MGN Online

NEW YORK — Comedian Joan Rivers died in a New York hospital Thursday afternoon, a week after suffering cardiac arrest during a medical procedure, her daughter said.

“She passed peacefully at 1:17 p.m. surrounded by family and close friends,” Melissa Rivers said in a written statement.

Rivers, 81, had been on life support at Manhattan’s Mount Sinai hospital, where she was taken after she stopped breathing at the Yorkville Endoscopy clinic last Thursday.

Rivers was undergoing an apparently minor elective procedure at the clinic when she suffered cardiac and respiratory arrest, according to the New York Fire Department.

Paramedics took her by ambulance to Mount Sinai Hospital, about a mile from the clinic, where she was initially listed in critical condition.

The outpatient clinic is now being investigated by the New York State Department of Health, spokesman James O’Hara said.

Her death also has triggered an investigation by the New York medical examiner’s office, its spokeswoman, Julie Bolcer ,told CNN. “The cause and manner of death will be announced at some point,” she said.

The Rivers family made very little information about her medical condition public, finally confirming Tuesday that she was on life support.

“My son and I would like to thank the doctors, nurses, and staff of Mount Sinai Hospital for the amazing care they provided for my mother,” her daughter said. “Cooper and I have found ourselves humbled by the outpouring of love, support, and prayers we have received from around the world. They have been heard and appreciated.’

Melissa Rivers and her son Cooper have spent the past week by Rivers’ hospital bedside, rushing there last Thursday when they learned of her illness.

‘My mother’s greatest joy in life was to make people laugh,” Melissa Rivers said. “Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon.”

The clinic has not responded to repeated calls from CNN about the state’s investigation.

Yorkville Endoscopy’s website says it is an “ambulatory surgical center” that has been “approved by the Department of Health.” The description of its accreditations is blank.

“Yorkville Endoscopy is a state of the art facility, staffed by highly experienced endoscopists whose mission is to provide safe and compassionate care to patients and their families,” the website says.

Tributes from Joan’s friends

Tributes to Rivers and her long career included one from former CNN host Larry King, who knew her for 45 years.

“She knew no boundaries,” King said. “Everything was funny to her. You couldn’t’ really object because she took no prisoners.”

Donald Trump, who chose her as the winner on a season of “Celebrity Apprentice,” said Rivers “was stronger at the end than she was at the beginning. She had unbelievable stamina.”

Ryan Seacrest, who worked with her on E! shows, called Rivers “a trailblazer in so many ways.”

Liza Minnelli said Rivers was “my dear friend.”

“I will miss her but I will always remember the laughter and friendship she brought into my life,” Minnelli said.

E! and NBCUniversal, producers of River’s TV show “Fashion Police,” sent condolences to her family on “this incredibly sad day.”

“For decades Joan has made people laugh, shattered glass ceilings and revolutionized comedy,” the studio said.

“She was unapologetic and fiercely dedicated to entertaining all of us and has left an indelible mark on the people that worked with her and on her legions of fans.  She’s been a much beloved member of the E! family for over 20 years and the world is less funny without her in it.  Today our hearts are heavy knowing Joan will not be bounding through the doors.”

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5 comments

  • Debbie

    Rest in Peace, Joan. Bring laughter and entertainment to heaven, along with Robin Williams. You both are missed. You both brought laughter and happiness to millions of people each year. God bless you both and your families and friends.

  • Toni Dering

    I adored Joan Rivers and I watched her when ever I could I also enjoyed the Laughter and the sense of Style she brought to the world I know that she will be making everyone in Heaven Laugh but she will surely be Missed here on earth!! Melissa you and your son Cooper have my deepest Sympathy.

    • Toni Dering

      I adored Joan Rivers and I watched her when ever I could I also enjoyed the Laughter and the sense of Style she brought to the world I know that she will be making everyone in Heaven Laugh but she will surely be Missed here on earth!! Melissa you and your son Cooper have my deepest Sympathy.

  • celia sassoon

    I am complete shock and am in deep grief..i did not realize she was so much a part of my life I watched her anytime
    she was on I loved and adored her and followed her for years…I am so sad I will light a candle (7 day one) and
    pray for her and family…I feel so empty she was such a force I never even thought of her going …I am 85 and
    I thought she would be around all of my life….the world was robbed a wonderful lovely human being that brought
    such joy and laughter that was taken for a medical mistake I wish she never had that procedure..especially
    at a out patient clinic…..I am so upset I cant believe how deeply this has affected me……my heart goes out
    to Melissa and cooper and family…..and the whole world weeps…………