Comedian Joan Rivers dies

21:00, Sep 04 2014
joan rivers
Joan Rivers and her daughter Melissa on the red carpet at the 73rd Annual Academy Awards in 2001.
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Rivers with her daughter Melissa and grandson Cooper filming scenes for their TV series Joan and Melissa.
joan rivers
Attending the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.
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With fans after performing on stage in London.
joan rivers
With her Fashion Police co-star Kelly Osbourne (L) and daughter Melissa at a panel discussion about the show.
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Rivers had been in a coma since was rushed to a New York hospital on August 28, 2014 after she stopped breathing during surgery.
joan rivers
Joan Rivers in full Fashion Police mode at New York Fashion Week in 2012.

American comedian Joan Rivers has died aged 81.

Rivers, who was hospitalised last week after a heart attack during a routine surgical procedure, has been on a life support system since the weekend.

Her family made the decision to take the iconic comedian off life support today.

Joan Rivers
JOAN RIVERS: Has died, age 81.

It is understood she died shortly after.

"It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers," her daughter Melissa Rivers said in a statement.

"She passed peacefully at 1.17pm [New York time on Thursday] surrounded by family and close friends."

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Melissa Rivers said she and her son Cooper were "humbled by the outpouring of live, support and prayers we have received from around the world.

"They have been heard and appreciated."

Rivers also thanked the doctors, nurses and staff of New York's Mount Sinai Hospital for "the amazing care they provided for my mother".

Rivers said her mother's greatest joy in life was "to make people laugh".

"Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon," Melissa Rivers said.

Rivers was moved from Yorkville Endoscopy Clinic to New York's Mount Sinai Hospital in an ambulance last week after she suffered cardiac arrest and stopped breathing during a routine procedure.

She arrived at the hospital in critical condition but was later upgraded to stable. She was placed in a medically-induced coma on the weekend and was due to be brought of that coma by mid-week.

She was moved out of intensive care but remained dependent on a life support system.

In an earlier statement, Melissa Rivers said her mother would have been touched by "the tributes and prayers that we have received from around the world".

Reuters