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Actor Martin Lawrence Comes Out of Coma

Medical: Doctors say the star is in critical but stable condition after collapsing from heat exhaustion while jogging over the weekend in Westlake Village.

August 26, 1999|COLL METCALFE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

THOUSAND OAKS — Actor Martin Lawrence regained consciousness Wednesday after slipping into a coma brought on by severe heat exhaustion while exercising, according to doctors at Los Robles Regional Medical Center.

Lawrence, 34, star of the television show "Martin" and films such as "Life," "Bad Boys" and "Nothing to Lose," collapsed and slipped into a coma Sunday after returning to his Westlake Village home from a jog.

Doctors listed the actor in critical but stable condition and said they are encouraged by his progress.

Lawrence is alert and responsive, but his breathing is still being aided by a ventilator, which is preventing him from speaking, hospital officials said.

"He's becoming more and more responsive, and we're very encouraged that he's come out of his coma," said hospital spokeswoman Kris Carraway-Bowman at a news conference Wednesday. "But this is going to be a day-by-day thing. . . . We'll know more as time goes on."

Lawrence left his home about 11:30 a.m. Sunday for an hourlong run through his neighborhood, Carraway-Bowman said. At the time, temperatures in the Conejo Valley were approaching 100 degrees.

A family member became concerned when Lawrence didn't return and went to look for him. Lawrence was found on his lawn, slumped over, moaning and having difficulty breathing, officials said.

By the time paramedics arrived, Lawrence was unconscious.

When he arrived at the hospital his temperature was about 107 degrees, and doctors worked to cool his body with cold water, ice and fans, Carraway-Bowman said.

"He was in very critical and unstable condition when he arrived," she said.

When the body becomes overheated, muscles begin to break down into proteins, which then flow through the blood, doctors say. The kidney, which cleans the blood, becomes clogged with the proteins, which can cause a coma and result in death.

Extreme overheating can also cause permanent kidney, brain and cardiac damage.

Doctors said Lawrence is experiencing kidney problems, but are unsure if they will be permanent.

Other tests showed no brain or heart damage.

Lawrence's physician, Dr. Paul Block, wouldn't speculate on whether the actor will make a full recovery and when he will be released.

Doctors are continuing to run tests and monitor his condition and said there is reason to be hopeful.

"His vital signs are stable, which is a good sign," Block said.

For Lawrence, this is just the latest in a string of problems.

In May 1996, Lawrence ran into traffic on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks screaming "fight the establishment" at oncoming cars. He was led away by police, who later found a gun in his pocket.

Later that year, he was sued by actress Tisha Campbell for alleged sexual harassment, but the case was later settled out of court.

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