Christopher Reeve Dead at 52

Christopher Reeve, the symbol of spinal cord injury research activism, has died at age 52. News report has it that he went into a coma after a cardiac arrest on Saturday and died on Sunday. It was also stated that he was being treated for a pressure sore, a common complication for those living with paralysis. Pressure sores develop when the skin and tissues surrounding bony protuberances in the body dies after the blood supply to the skin is cut off due to an extended period of inactivity such as sitting or lying down for too long in the same position.

The actor, famous for his role in four Superman movies, broke his neck when he was thrown from his horse on May 27, 1995. The fall crushed his first and second cervical vertebras and severely damaged his spinal cord. With damage this high on the spinal cord, Reeve lost the ability to breathe and also lost sensory and motor functions below the level of injury. In short, he was totally paralysed and would die without the aid of a ventilator to help him breathe.

Reeve had been vocal in his push for stem cell research, considered a critical component in the cure for spinal cord injury. President Bush had opposed stem cell research and funding for such studies have been severely cut by the US government. The research involves stem cells derived from human embryos and is opposed by many because of its ethical, moral, legal and religious ramifications. Despite this setback, Christopher Reeve had been the flag bearer of hope for those afflicted with spinal cord injury.

May his soul rest in peace.

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Slave to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. End-stage renal disease since 2017. Principal Facilitator at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. Former columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

6 thoughts on “Christopher Reeve Dead at 52”

  1. I remembered talking with my bf about who’s gonna be the next Superman besides that Dean Cain and that dude from Smallville. Christopher Reeves is perfect for the role of Superman and it’s gonna be hard to find someone ‘untarnished’ to replace him. Well, even Superman has got to die someday.

  2. Bibi,
    I see Christopher Reeve as a fellow tetraplegic first more than his roles in the Superman movies. He has put spinal cord injury (SCI) research in the forefront. The Superman movies had entertained but his work in SCI had given hope to many with similar disabilities.

  3. Hi Peter
    Talking about paralysis. Last week I was in the children ICU in UMMC. There was this boy of 10 yrs old (9 to be exact) who was on the ventilator. I am someone who are toughen and usually, a visit to the ICU to see my friend’s baby (14 mths old, been there since birth) is just another visit. But when I was washing my hands, I could see him in his glass room. The image stayed on in my mind till now. He has the same exact facial features like my eldest son, some body size and shape, he is totally paralysed (due to some nerves problem since small). But his eyes, his eyes says so much. (usually, babies don’t affect me so much because I lied to myself that baby doesn’t feel as much) I just wish I could so something, anything for him. Like going in to his room and give him a hug or something (but we aren’t allowed, of course). Back home in Penang, I remember him and thought of you too. Back when you were a teenager with raging hormones but down and out after your accident. Well, I can’t imagine so I don’t know what to say. Then, yesterday when I was at church, I went to Father Stephen to ask him to say a little prayer for my book. He gave his blessings and prayed over them. But I just broke down (thank goodness his office has a big box of tissue) and added to his prayer that the Lord will keep all the children safe and free from pain.

    Now, about stem cells. I am against stem cells research if they are for the older folks like the Alzhemeir’s disease but now that you mentioned it, I do wonder…..if I am a bit self-righteous…..

  4. Lilian,
    I am opposed to any form of medical research where one life is destroyed in order to save another. It is just not right although it may lead to many of the physically disabled regaining the use of their limbs again. In this aspect, I totally disagree with Christopher Reeve’s stand on harvesting stem cells from embryos however much it will benefit those affected by neuromuscular diseases and injuries.

  5. in reality, no one’s superman. we’re all frail in every way possible. but chris was a man who had the will to live. god have mercy on his soul.

  6. Dave,
    I know of many tetraplegics and quadriplegics who have the strong will to live too. Reeve’s plight was much publicised that made many see him as a hero. All my disabled friends are heroes equal to Reeve in my eyes. Some of them have to go through difficulty after difficulty and yet value life more than anything else. These are the people who make do with the little that they possess. These are the true heroes.

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