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Thread: Donald Sutherland tells how scuba-diving at 72 almost killed him

  1. #1
    Elite Member Honey's Avatar
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    Dec 2006

    Default Donald Sutherland tells how scuba-diving at 72 almost killed him

    Veteran Hollywood actor Donald Sutherland has revealed how he was struck by crippling chest pains and feared he was going to die after filming underwater scenes for his latest movie on the Great Barrier Reef.

    The 72-year-old star was taken ill after returning to Los Angeles, where he lives, during a break in shooting Fool's Gold a sunken treasure adventure starring Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson and Ewen Bremner.
    "I was out at lunch with my wife, Francine, and I had a pain in my chest that you could not believe," said Canadian-born Sutherland, who gave up smoking and heavy drinking 40 years ago. Scroll down for more ...
    Agony: First Donald Sutherland thought he was having a heart attack, and then he was told he might have lung cancer

    "Every time I took a breath, I would scream. It was awful.
    "My wife drove me straight to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
    "The policeman who took me in because I couldn't walk shouted out that I was having a heart attack."
    Doctors examined the actor immediately, giving him an MRI and CAT scan and an electrocardiogram test, but could find nothing wrong despite the intense pain remaining.
    Sutherland's own physician and his movie-star son Kiefer rushed to the hospital as the family feared the worst.
    But the pain abated after Sutherland was given morphine, and he was allowed home. Scroll down for more ...
    Underwater kingdom: But scuba-diving is not recommended for over-50s

    But the following day, the actor, who learned to scuba-dive for his role in Fool's Gold, began coughing uncontrollably.
    "Finally, I coughed something up," he said.
    "I initially thought it was chocolate. But when I looked closer, it was blood. I was pretty scared.
    "I called my doctor immediately and went back into the hospital.
    "They did a nuclear scan of my lungs and found what looked like a tumour.
    "I asked my doctor, 'What does this mean? Is it lung cancer?'
    "He said, 'Well, yes, it probably is'."
    Sutherland informed the doctor he had to return to Australia to finish filming Fool's Gold but was told that was impossible.
    The actor, however, had other ideas and said to medical staff: "No way. If I've got lung cancer, there's no point staying - and if I don't have lung cancer, there's no point in staying."
    Finally he was persuaded to have a bronchoscopy, which diagnoses conditions of the airways.
    "So the next day at 8am, they wheeled me into surgery and they were going to give me a general anaesthetic," Sutherland continued.
    "I said to them, 'I don't want a general anaesthetic because, at my age, it tears apart pieces of your brain that will never come back'.
    "But they insisted they had to dig around in my lungs, so I allowed them to put me under.
    "When I came round, the doctor was standing above me.
    "The first thing that he said was, 'You haven't been scuba-diving, have you?'
    "I said I had and asked him why. He said, 'Because you have a broken blood vessel in your lung. What we thought was maybe a tumour is, in fact, the clotted blood surrounding a broken bronchial blood vessel'.
    "It was a big relief, but then the specialist told me I shouldn't have been scuba-diving beyond the age of 50.
    "When I went back to Australia a few days later, I told the diving master on the film what had happened and he said, 'Oh God'.
    "Then I told him, 'Apparently I'm not supposed to dive after 50 and I'm 72!'"
    The actor says the diving master then confessed: "I know, I know, but I'm diving and my doctor told me I had to stop at 50 and I'm nearly 60." Sutherland went on: "So my wife, who is there with me, says I can't dive any more. And then the other guy says, 'Yeah. I know. A guy near where we live went in. He was 72 and had an embolism and died'. "I was not happy."

    Donald Sutherland tells how scuba-diving on the Great Barrier Reef at 72 almost killed him | the Daily Mail

  2. #2
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    Oct 2005


    Sounds like the dive master and others were negligent!

  3. #3
    Gold Member heathersharon's Avatar
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    Oct 2007
    In ur internetz. Gossipin'.


    I'm glad 'ole Hawkeye is okay now. I've always liked him.

  4. #4
    Elite Member Lalique's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
    The land of ice and snow


    I'm a scuba diver and I've never heard of this. I dive with many people over 50 (many of them MDs). Sounds more like he ascended too quickly. You also need to avoid things like flying and hot tubs for a period of time after your dives.
    What I really want to know is whether it makes your poop glow in the dark after eating it! ~ Kittylady

  5. #5
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    Jun 2006
    West Indies


    that's a load of bs...there is no age restriction in diving but there can be medical partner is an instructor...

    now, if one is older than 65, it is highly recommended that you get yearly clearance for diving....

    what happened to Donald can happen to any diver and he should have told the doctor when he was first admitted that he had been diving..if he had, then they would have checked for broken vessels right off the bat...

    I will say that Australia as some of the toughest diving laws and it may be Australian law that prohibits diving after the age of 5O, this is not the policy of the diving organizations (PADI, NAUI) etc

  6. #6
    Elite Member yanna's Avatar
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    Jun 2006


    I'm glad he's ok, I just love him. Thinking he had lung cancer must have been scary as hell. And I don't think he's to blame for not mentioning scuba diving. How could he guess?

  7. #7
    Elite Member aabbcc's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
    Watching the sun set over Lake Superior.


    I know someone over 50 who recently started learning scuba diving. After reading this, I sent him an email telling him to be careful. Scary.

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