Mary Lou Retton: Olympian experiences setback in fight against rare form of pneumonia

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Retired Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Mary Lou Retton experienced a “scary setback” in her fight against a rare form of pneumonia this week, after showing remarkable progress towards recovery just days ago, her daughter said Wednesday night.

Retton is still in the intensive care unit and is “really exhausted” after the setback, her daughter Shayla Kelley Schrepfer said in a video posted to Instagram.

“At the beginning of this week, we were going on the up and up. We were so excited, seeing so much progress, and then yesterday we had a pretty scary setback,” Schrepfer said. “She is still in ICU, and we’re just working through some things as far as her setback goes.”

This month, Retton’s family announced the 55-year-old had a rare form of pneumonia that left her fighting for her life. Her daughter McKenna Kelley started an online fundraiser on behalf of Retton’s four daughters to help support the medical costs, noting that Retton is uninsured.

Earlier in the week, Schrepfer said that although 55-year-old Retton still needed intensive care, her breathing was becoming stronger, and she no longer had to rely so heavily on machines.

“Mom’s progress is truly remarkable!” Schrepfer wrote. “Prayers have been felt and have been answered.”

Pneumonia is a respiratory infection that can cause the lungs to fill with fluid, with symptoms that can range from mild to life threatening. Adults older than 65, children younger than 5 and those with other medical conditions are most at risk. The family did not specify the type of rare pneumonia her mother is diagnosed with.

“We hope that you guys will respect her boundaries, as we want to keep the details between her and our family right now,” Schrepfer said in an earlier Instagram post.

Retton won five medals during the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles – more than any other athlete at those games – making her a household name.

She was the first US woman to earn an Olympic gold in the individual all-around event and was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1997.


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