(NEW YORK) — Mary Lou Retton, the American gymnast who became a sports icon when she won Olympic gold in 1984, is getting stronger as she battles a very rare form of pneumonia,” according to her daughter.
Shayla Kelley Schrepfer, one of Retton’s four daughters, shared on Instagram that the Olympian is making “truly remarkable” progress.
“Although she remains in the ICU, her path to recovery is steadily unfolding. Her fighting spirit is truly shining,” Schrepfer wrote. “Her breathing is becoming stronger, and her reliance on machines is diminishing.”
Schrepfer continued, “Though it’s a lengthy journey, witnessing these improvements is incredibly heartening! She’s responding so well to treatments.”
Retton, 55, has been hospitalized in the intensive care unit for over one week and was initially not able to breathe on her own, according to a fundraising page created for Retton, who is not insured, according to her family.
As of Monday morning, the page had raised over $435,000, far exceeding its original $50,000 goal.
In her message, Schrepfer also thanked people for donating money and praying for her mom.
“Once more, we extend our heartfelt gratitude for your overwhelming love and support,” she said.
Pneumonia is an infection that causes the air sacs of the lungs to fill with fluid, according to the National Institutes of Health.
“When treating patients for pneumonia, reports that they’re relying less and less on clinical assistance, whether that be machines or oxygen are a great prognostic indicator that hopefully means that they’ll need even less assistance in the future,” said Dr. Darien Sutton, an emergency physician and ABC News medical correspondent, who is not involved in Retton’s care.
Retton is most famous for her performance in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, where she scored a series of perfect 10s to become the first-ever American to win an Olympic individual all-round gold, according to her official Olympics biography.
Retton also won two additional silver medals and two bronze medals at the Los Angeles Olympics, making her the most decorated athlete of that Olympics, according to her bio.
Retton has remained an iconic American sports hero in the decades since and was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1997.
In 2018, Retton competed on season 27 of ABC’s dancing competition show Dancing with the Stars.
“This has been the time of my life,” Retton said after she and her pro partner, Sasha Farber, were the fifth couple to get eliminated from the competition. “I hadn’t challenged myself in decades and now I challenged myself. I’m off to a fresh new start.”
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