Brain to be donated for research
Former WWE Superstar Chyna died of an accidental overdose on prescription drugs Ambien and Valium, according to her manager, Anthony Anzaldo.
“She accidentally and unintentionally misused her legally prescribed medication over the course of 2-3 weeks. It’s an epidemic,” Anzaldo said Wednesday, per Phil Helsel and Andrew Rudansky of NBC News.
Chyna, born Joanie Laurer, was found dead April 20 in her California home. She was 46. One of the most decorated female stars in WWE history, Chyna had issues with substance abuse during her life. She made an appearance on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew and revealed problems with mental health to go along with drinking and drugs.
Anzaldo said this was not a case of her succumbing to addiction. He said the drugs were legally prescribed but Chyna “wasn’t using them properly,” per Veronica Rocha of the Los Angeles Times.
“You are not going to find 60 pills in her stomach,” Anzaldo told Rocha.
An official cause of death has not yet been determined. The Los Angeles County coroner’s office is currently investigating the cause and will release an official report at its conclusion. No timetable has been set.
Chyna is the only female Intercontinental Champion in WWE history and was a former women’s champion.
She left WWE in 2001 before spending time in New Japan Wrestling and TNA.
Her post-wrestling work included stints in reality shows, movies and adult films.
Meanwhile, representatives for the wrestler and entertainer have confirmed that her brain will be donated for research into the degenerative brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, known as CTE.
CTE can result in Alzheimer’s-like symptoms such as mood swings, memory loss and rage. It can potentially lead to suicide. Researchers believe the disease is a result of repeated hits to the head that yield a build-up of an abnormal protein called tau. CTE can be definitively diagnosed only after death.
Chyna’s spokesman Anthony Anzalo said her brain will be examined by Dr. Bennet Omalu.
Omalu was the first to document CTE in the brain of a professional football player. Will Smith played him in the 2015 movie “Concussion.”
CTE has been connected to the deaths of former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson and San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau. Recently, both racing star Dale Earnhardt Jr. and women’s soccer icon Brandi Chastain have promised to donate their brains for CTE research.
Researchers at Boston University have identified the disease in nearly 200 people. CTE has been identified in over 90 per cent of the brains the researchers have studied.