Sepsis… What Killed Jeff Conaway?

Jeff Conaway died Friday morning of pneumonia and a sepsis infection. His family made the decision to take him off life support Thursday evening, after he spent two weeks in a coma.

“He was taken off life support yesterday afternoon,” Phil Brock, Conaway’s manager, said in a statement to Us Weekly.  “His sisters, nieces, nephews and ministers were by his side when life support was removed. On a personal note, we were his representatives for the last 8 years and we loved him as a person, respected him as an consummate entertainer and performer.”

Jeff Conaway has a history of drug abuse. He was hospitalized on May 11th after being found unconscious in his home in LA. It was originally thought that he had overdosed.

In 2008, he had appeared on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew Pinsky. When Pinsky heard of Conaway’s death, he tweeted: “I’m saddened to report [Conaway] has succumbed to his addiction, thus far we have no evidence of an intentional overdose.”

But now it’s been released that Conaway was suffering from pneumonia and sepsis, a dangerous blood infection.

Sepsis is a severe blood illness, according to consumer health site PubMed Health. With sepsis, bacteria from an infection overwhelms the bloodstream. The bacterial infection can begin anywhere in or on the body. Symptoms include confusion or delirium, decreased urine output, hyperventilation, lightheadedness, rapid heartbeat, skin rash, shaking and warm skin.

Sepsis causes low blood pressure, and as a result, body systems and organs like the kidneys, liver, lungs, and central nervous system fail.

No indication of where the infection that started the sepsis in Jeff Conaway has been released.

Jeff Conaway had several roles on Kojak, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Happy Days, before becoming famous as Kenickie on the hit musical, Grease, with John Travolta. He then spent four seasons playing Bobby Wheeler, a struggling actor/cab driver, on the hit TV series Taxi.

Marilu Henner, who also starred in Taxi, tweeted:  “Doesn’t see(m) possible that my sweet, talented, handsome, loving friend/brother is gone, I will miss him so much. So many memories for 39 yrs.”

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Faroh Sauder has spent more than 30 years working as a journalist and educator. He has written on politics, international affairs, civil rights, and consumer education. Now mostly retired, Faroh continues to stay current on tech and consumer issues and reports on his interests here at News For Shoppers.