Mary Lou Retton 'grateful to be here' after ICU stay with rare pneumonia

Mary Lou Retton
Mary Lou Retton

Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Mary Lou Retton said she's grateful to be alive after spending a month in an intensive-care unit last fall with a rare form of pneumonia.

"I'm not great yet," Retton, 55, recently told NBC’s TODAY Show from her Texas home. "I know it's going to be a really long road ... When you face death in the eyes, I have so much to look forward to. I'm a fighter, and I'm not going to give up."

Retton said she was about to be put on life support before doctors tried putting high-flow oxygen through her nose. She began to heal, was discharged and spent the holidays at home. She did the TODAY interview while using an oxygen device.

In October, Retton's daughters announced via fundraising link that she was "fighting for her life" and unable to breathe on her own.

They asked for help paying hospital costs as Retton was uninsured. More than 8,000 donors combined to give more than $450,000.

"When COVID hit and after my divorce and all my pre-existing — I've had over 30 operations, orthopedic stuff — I couldn't afford it," Retton said, adding that she now has insurance.

McKenna Kelley, one of Retton's four daughters, said that after the medical bills are paid all remaining funds will be donated to charity, according to USA Today.

At the 1984 Los Angeles Games, Retton won the Olympic all-around at age 16 to become the first American woman to take gymnastics gold in any event.