LOS ANGELES — Actor Anne Heche suffered an “anoxic” brain injury and is not expected to survive, her spokesman said Thursday, nearly a week after her car crashed into a Los Angeles home.
“It has long been her choice to donate her organs and she is being held alive to determine if they are viable,” the spokesperson said in a statement on behalf of her friends and family.
On Monday, 53-year-old Heche was in a coma and “extreme” condition, her representative said. The spokesman said Heche was “unconscious and slipped into a coma” after the crash.
Anoxic injuries occur when the brain is cut off from oxygen, causing cell death.
Heche, who was in the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital, remained in a coma and critical condition on Thursday, the statement said.
Heche broke into a home in the Mar Vista community of Los Angeles late Friday morning. The house was damaged by the “severe fire” caused by the collision, said Brian Humphrey, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.
She had drugs in her body, and she was under investigation for possible drink-driving, police said Thursday.
“During preliminary testing, the blood sample revealed the presence of drugs,” the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement.
Police could not comment “at this time on the presence of cocaine, fentanyl or alcohol,” they said on Thursday. “That is determined by the second test.”
“The case is under investigation as a DUI traffic collision felony,” the statement said.
Heche got her first notable roles on the soap opera “Another World”, portraying Vicky Hudson and Marley Love in the early 1990s.
Later that decade, movies like “Donnie Brasco,” “Volcano” and “I Know What You Did Last Summerhelped propel her fame in Hollywood and beyond.
Her television credits included “Chicago PD” and “Men in Trees.”
She met talk show host Ellen DeGeneres in 1997, when Vince Vaughn, her “Return to Paradise” co-star, introduced them to a Los Angeles restaurant.
Heche and DeGeneres became romantically involved in a relationship that Heche says was groundbreaking for the time because of the worldwide attention they received as Hollywood stars in a same-sex romance.
“My story is a story that changed the world, moved the needle for equal rights, when I fell in love with Ellen DeGeneres,” she said in a recorded segment for the show “Dancing With the Stars” that year.
When their three-year relationship ended in 2000, Heche was hospitalized after she was found in a rural area of Fresno County, California, acting disoriented and confused, authorities said.
Heche described her struggles with her mental health in her 2001 memoir, “Call Me Crazy.”
“I wanted to beat everyone else,” she said of the book in an interview with Larry King that year. “I’m sure what has been written about me in the press. I, although I was never diagnosed as crazy, I went crazy.”
Heche said she couldn’t be hired for a role at a major studio for nearly a decade.
She later married Coley Laffoon, and the couple had a son before divorcing. She had another son in 2009 with actor James Tupper, her co-star in “Men in Trees”; they broke up.
In her family’s statement, Heche was described as having a “big heart” and as someone who “touched everyone she met with her generous spirit”.
“More than her extraordinary talent, she saw spreading kindness and joy as her life’s work – especially moving the needle to accept who you love,” the statement read. “She will be remembered for her brave honesty and sorely missed for her light.”