John Ritter’s Widow, Amy Yasbeck, continues to honor the star 20 years after he suddenly died from an undetected genetic heart condition.
The former Three’s Company star was only 54 when he died from a thoracic aortic dissection, which happens when a tear in the inner layer of the body’s main artery—the aorta—causes blood to rush in and “dissect” it.
On Sept. 11, 2003., Ritter was working on the set of 8 Simple Rules, and he began having extreme chest pain and nausea. The producer took him to the ER, where doctors misdiagnosed him and treated him for a heart attack. The actor died later that night.
“Sadly, what should have happened, and we know this now, is they should’ve done a CT scan to rule out anything else,” she told Fox News. Had doctors taken the proper measures, they may have been able to save Ritter’s life.
Yasbeck quickly established The John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health in hopes of preventing other families from suffering the same loss as hers. Aortic dissection is considered a silent killer because the condition is often misdiagnosed, as it was for John Ritter. And while there are hereditary predispositions that could help early detection, science has yet to find an easy and successful way of detecting genetic factors. Through Ritter’s foundation, Yasbeck raises funds that aid research, advocacy, and education.
“If you’ve been diagnosed, or you need to talk to somebody who’s been in the same situation, we have the aorta advocates and then ‘Ritter Rules,’ which is a set of rules for understanding what your risk is,” she explained to the publication.
John Ritter’s Former ‘8 Simple Rules’ Co-star Kaley Cuoco is Active in the Foundation
Yasbeck explained that John Ritter’s former 8 Simple Rules co-star Kaley Cuoco also helps with the cause. She will even be a co-chair for this year’s fundraising event in May. Ritter’s four children, Jason, Tyler, and Carley, whom he shared with his ex-wife, Nancy Morgan, and Noah, whom he shared with Yasbeck, also support her as she works to build the foundation.
However, The John Ritter Foundation isn’t the only way she and her family honor the late comedian. As she explained, her family of 5 has grown to a family of 11 with grandchildren, and she sees a little bit of Ritter in all of them.
“There’s no way to not keep John’s memory alive,” she continued. “All four kids are freaking hilarious, and they do not have to imitate their dad. They’ve all got their own thing. “If you get all four kids together, you can kind of recreate John, so that’s always good. And I have six grandkids, so that helps as well.”
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