Two weeks after suffering a stroke, R&B singer Luther Vandross has yet to regain consciousness and was forced to undergo a tracheotomy last week after contracting pneumonia.
The singer remains in critical condition and has shown no signs of consciousness since he was found in his New York apartment several hours after the April 16 stroke (see "Luther Vandross Suffers Stroke").
"The doctors report that neurologically he is minimally responsive," according to a statement released Monday by Vandross' business manager, Carmen Romano. "We're waiting for him to regain full consciousness. I am told this may take some time."
Spokesperson Lois Najarian stressed that doctors do not consider Vandross' condition to be a coma because he has shown some signs of responsiveness, though he has not yet been able to speak or move about. "He is expected to make a full recovery with a long road of rehabilitation ahead of him," Najarian said.
Romano said Vandross contracted pneumonia last week and as a result underwent a tracheotomy, a procedure in which a hole is made in the windpipe and a tube is inserted to aid breathing. "The tracheotomy was performed in a manner in which his vocal cords were not affected or damaged," Romano said.
Some of Vandross' peers have offered words of encouragement for the ailing singer. Alicia Keys wrote that if Vandross could hear her, she’d tell him, "This is Alicia. Please, take your time. Don't rush. You will get better, but it's gonna take time. My mom, Jeff, Angie and all your labelmates are praying for you and playing your music everywhere. In the car. In the crib. Have you heard us? You are loved!"
Singer Deborah Cox also released a statement, in which she wrote, "It is hard to put into words the depth of this tragedy. Luther is not only an innovative, accomplished musician and entertainer, but an incredibly warm and funny individual. He always found his way to my dressing room at shows to chat about all kinds of things and to lend support and encouragement as a mentor. ... I have been diligently praying for his recovery."
Vandross remains in the intensive care unit at the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York and is still listed in critical but stable condition, according to a hospital spokesperson.
J Records still expects to release the singer's new album, Dance With My Father, on June 10. The album features contributions from Beyoncé Knowles, Busta Rhymes, Stevie Wonder, Foxy Brown and Queen Latifah, and Najarian said the label is considering reaching out to some of the record's guests to help promote the release.