Olympic Icon Mary Lou Retton Speaks Out for the First Time Since Fighting For Her Life

UPDATE: Mary Lou Retton is getting vulnerable with Today and sharing more about her recent health troubles.

In the sneak peek of the interview shared on Today’s official X account, Retton reveals she’s still on oxygen even though she no longer needs to be in a hospital and that although she’s a private person it’s a “blessing” to be able to share her vulnerable story with others because there was a time they considered putting her on life support. “This is serious and this is life and I’m so grateful to be here.”

As Mary Lou Retton continued to explain, it all happened as she and her daughter were preparing for a girls’ trip. They were getting their nails done and Mary Lou admitted to her daughter, “I just can’t keep my eyes open. I am so tired.”

And as the day went on, Retton got progressively worse. Mary Lou began saying things that didn’t make sense, but because their mom was always a “piston” the family chalked it up to dehydration and didn’t think much else about it.

The next day, sadly, Mary Lou was found on the bathroom floor gasping for air by a neighbor. “She came in the house. She knows my code, and saw me and found me,” Retton told Today. “And Magda pretty much saved my life.” She was immediately rushed to the hospital where she began fighting for life.

Things got so bad that her daughters were told to say their goodbyes. “Things just went south really, really fast,” and doctors started to consider putting Retton on life support. “‘We don’t know if she’s going to make it through the night,'” Shayla Schrepfer, her oldest daughter, told Hoda.

Thankfully, a miracle happened, and doctors found a breathing apparatus that helped Retton reach oxygen levels that kept her off of life support. Twelve days later she was released from the hospital, though she is still on oxygen to this day. Mary Lou admits she still can’t take a big deep breath.

Doctors still don’t know what caused her pneumonia and plan to biopsy Mary Lou’s lung once her body can handle it. For now, the family is taking everything day by day and doing their best to stay “very positive.”

Olympic icon Mary Lou Retton is opening up for the first time since spending days in a Texas hospital fighting for her life after being diagnosed with a rare case of pneumonia.

“I’m beyond blessed to have the opportunity to make this statement. I am overwhelmed with all the love and support from the world as I fight. I am forever grateful to you all!”

She continued, “I’m with family continuing to slowly recover and staying very positive as I know this recovery is a long and slow process. I appreciate everyone’s respect of my privacy at this time.”

“When the time is right, I will be sharing more information about my health issues and hope I can help others who may face the same battle as me. I love you all.”

Update: October 23, 2023: Just four days after it was revealed that Mary Lou Retton had suffered a scary setback, a miracle has occurred.

According to Fox News, Retton has been released from the hospital and is now home with her family in “recovery mode.” “Mom is HOME and in recovery mode. We still have a long road of recovery ahead of us, but baby steps,” one of her four daughters, McKenna Kelley, wrote on Instagram.

“We are overwhelmed with the love and support from everyone. Grateful doesn’t scrape the surface of the posture of our hearts. Thank you Jesus, thank you, doctors and nurses, thank you to this loving community of support.”

Update: October 19, 2023: Mary Lou Retton has had a setback on her road to recovery.

As her daughter shared in another video on Instagram, “We were so excited, seeing so much progress and then yesterday we had a pretty scary setback. She is still in ICU and we’re just working through some things as far as her setback goes. So I just wanted to give an update there.”

Shayla continued, saying that Mary Lou “had a better day today, which is great,” but that her mom is “really really exhausted.”

Update: October 11, 2023: Mary Lou Retton’s daughter Shayla Schrepfer is sharing more details about her mom’s ongoing health battle.

In an interview with People, Shayla revealed that Mary Lou, 55, has been in the hospital for a week as she continues to battle a rare form of pneumonia. 

Shayla then shared a video offering more detail on her mom’s condition. 

The daughter of an American icon is speaking out as her mom fights for her life. “It’s gonna be a day by day process, and we hope that you guys will respect her boundaries because we want to keep the details between her and our family right now.”

She continued, adding that while Mary Lou is “still fighting” for her life, “She’s been treated by the best of the best professionals here and it has been such a blessing to have their hands on her, so please continue the prayers and we cannot thank you enough for the love and support that you guys have shown.”

Mary Lou Retton is likely a name you’ve heard before. Back in 1984, Retton made history as a gymnast for Team USA during the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

You likely recall her incredible vault and floor routine which earned her 10s across the board giving her the gold medal over Romania’s Ecaterina Szabo. She went on to become Sports Illustrated’s Sportswoman of the Year and was featured on the Wheaties box.

Sadly, as Retton’s daughter McKenna Kelley shared with her fans on her Instagram Story, Retton is now “fighting for her life in the ICU.” Kelly continued, revealing, “My amazing mom, Mary Lou, has a very rare form of pneumonia.”

“She is not able to breathe on her own. She’s been in the ICU for over a week now. Out of respect for her and her privacy, I will not disclose all details. However, I will disclose that she not insured.”

Kelley has also created a fund, asking people if they can, to help her raise money for the hospital bills that are currently piling up. “We ask that if you could help in any way, that 1) you PRAY! and 2) if you could help us with finances for the hospital bill.”

After retiring from gymnastics in 1986, Retton kept a high-profile guest staring in shows like Glee, Baywatch, and season 27 of Dancing With the Stars. It’s unclear how long Retton has been in the hospital.

Retton has four daughters and has been inducted into the  International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

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