Mary Lou Retton, 55, is speaking out about the scary health battle she went through last year. The former Olympic gymnast revealed she was almost put on “life support” when she was struggling in the ICU for a month with a rare form of pneumonia, in a new interview. It’s the first time she’s publicly commented on her health issues since they happened.
“Usually my interviews are, ‘Oh, yeah, it felt great to win the Olympics,’ you know? This is serious and this is life,” Mary Lou, who wore a breathing apparatus in her nose for oxygen, told Hoda Kotb in a preview for an upcoming Today interview, which aired on Sunday Today with Willie Geist. “I’m so grateful to be here. I am blessed to be here, because there was a time when they were about to put me on life support.”
She also admitted to being “very much” in “a vulnerable state” but said she is also “very private” when it comes to her personal life.
Mary Lou’s interview comes after her daughter, McKenna Kelley, 26, revealed that her mother was in a Houston, TX hospital and wasn’t insured. “My amazing mom, Mary Lou, has a very rare form of pneumonia and is fighting for her life,” McKenna wrote in a message on a Spotfund fundraising page set up for Mary Lou’s medical expenses. At the time, Mary Lou’s oldest daughter, Shayla, 28, also told PEOPLE that her family’s priority was “the well-being of our mom.”
“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 shared, just over a week after McKenna revealed the news about Mary Lou’s health battle.
After eventually being released from the hospital, Mary Lou, herself, gave an update on her condition. “I’m with family continuing to slowly recover and staying very positive as I know this recovery is a long and slow process,” she posted on Instagram. “When the time is right, I will be sharing more information about my health issues.”