Gloria Gaynor: ‘I was paralysed but I did survive!’ | Celebrity News | Showbiz & TV

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The I Will Survive singer also said she suffered for so long she was forced to record her iconic anthem – which topped the charts in 24 countries back in 1978 – wearing a brace to keep her spine straight. Now, after fearing she would be partially paralysed for the rest of her life, she is launching a comeback next month with a national US concert tour at the age of 71. She has released a new gospel album called Testimony, claiming: “It’s like I have a new life. I feel blessed beyond measure. At one time, I couldn’t even get out of a chair without help. For the last 20 years, I could only walk bent over.”

Gloria’s agony began 41 years ago when she tripped over a stage monitor during a show at New York’s Beacon Theatre. Next morning she was paralysed. 

Surgery to remove a ruptured disc and fuse two vertebrae in her lower spine restored her mobility. But the injury led to decades of pain and surgery and derailed her career.

“I felt it all day, every day in my spine and down my legs,” she said. “It wasn’t just debilitating pain but stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks pain.

There were times when it was so bad I had to sleep in a chair because it was just too painful laying down. I didn’t know what to do but I did know I couldn’t live like that.” 

In January last year, Gloria found herself back on the operating table after a friend put her in touch with LA-based orthopaedic surgeon Dr Hooman Melamed. He performed a pioneering procedure that meant breaking her spine before reconstructing it. 

Complications during the first stage left her in intensive care “thinking I was going to die”. Five days later, however, the doctor performed the second part of the procedure.

And the day after that, said Gloria: “They got me out of bed and I was able to walk straight for the first time in years and years.”



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