Whoopi Goldberg: Why She Nearly Died From Pneumonia

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Whoopie Goldberg just revealed that she went through an ordeal. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage,)Getty

Recently, Whoopi Goldberg has been out of The View and out of view in general. This prompted some conspiracy theories on social media such as:

Conspiracy theories on social media? Imagine that. It turns out that this hosting speculation was a host of bleep. Goldberg was indeed sick, in fact very sick, according to her recent remote appearance on the The View:

Yes, the 63-year-old said that she had “pneumonia in both lungs, which meant there was fluid and there was all kinds of stuff going on.” Oh, and the “I came very, very close to leaving the earth” was not good, because she wasn’t talking about boarding the next Space X rocket.

Pneumonia occurs when your lungs get infected with bacteria, viruses, or some other type of microorganism and subsequently become inflamed and filled with fluid. This can make it difficult for your lungs to do their job: provide oxygen to your blood and remove carbon dioxide from your blood. According to the American Thoracic Society, pneumonia is the most common reason why adults in the U.S. have to be admitted to hospital besides giving birth with about a million admissions occurring each year. Pneumonia claims the lives of around 50,000 adults annually. While the advent of antibiotics helped significantly improve survival for those with pneumonia, things have not really gotten that much better over the past several decades. In fact the American Thoracic Society says, “We are not yet winning the battle against pneumonia.” That’s a grim reality.

In fact, pneumonia causes about half of all episodes of sepsis and septic shock. Sepsis is bad news. It occurs when your immune system is trying to fight an infection but things go haywire. The chemical reactions in your body proceed down the wrong pathways and begin doing serious damage to your body and multiple organs, pushing them to the point of failure. Your blood pressure may drop to dangerous levels, you may have even more difficulty breathing, your kidneys may stop excreting urine, you may become disoriented, and your liver can fail.

Organ failure is not like failing calculus or a Lion King audition. Such organ failure can quickly lead to death. As the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) indicates, each year, over a million Americans suffer severe sepsis with 15% to 30% of them not surviving. There’s a heavy toll for even those who survive. Trying to stave off multi-organ failure is costly as “the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality lists sepsis as the most expensive condition treated in U.S. hospitals, costing nearly $24 billion in 2013,” per NIGMS. Oh, and the number of sepsis cases each year has been rising over time. Part of the reason has been the emergence of new antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the lack of new antibiotics to combat them. There is a real need for more awareness about and more options to prevent and treat sepsis. That’s why the Sepsis Alliance (which is allied against sepsis and not for it) has emerged.

While battling pneumonia and sepsis, Goldberg probably wasn’t thinking about hosting the Oscars. In fact, in December she had already recommended on the Jimmy Kimmel Show that actor Ken Jeong instead be selected as the host, which would make him the first Asian American ever to host a show that historically has lacked Asian Americans in general:

So, you can say that the Oscar conspiracy theorists got a host of things wrong. You can also say, Whoopi, it’s good that Goldberg survived what must have been a harrowing battle with pneumonia and sepsis.

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