A week after checking into a London hospital following a fainting spell at home, doctors have finally figured out what is ailing Amy Winehouse. The singer’s father, Mitch Winehouse, told England’s Sunday Mirror that his daughter has an early stage of the deadly lung disease emphysema and an irregular heartbeat, possibly due to smoking crack cocaine and cigarettes.
“Doctors have told her if she goes back to smoking drugs, it won’t just ruin her voice, it will kill her,” Mitch Winehouse reportedly told the Mirror. “She’s got emphysema — it’s in its early stages, but had it gone on for another month, they painted a very vivid picture of her sitting there like an old person with a mask on her face, struggling to breathe.”
The progressive lung condition, typically caused by long-term exposure to cigarette smoke or toxic chemicals, most often strikes long-time smokers. The irreversible and degenerative disease causes damage to the air sacs and airways to the lungs, making it hard for sufferers to exhale or catch their breath.
“With smoking the crack cocaine and the cigarettes, her lungs are all gunked up. There are nodules around the chest and dark marks. She’s got 70 percent lung capacity,” Mitch Winehouse said. He made a plea to the drug dealers and addicts who have supplied the troubled singer with drugs over the years to stay away from her for the sake of her life.
“I’m saying to those drug dealers, and they know who they are, if they are supplying crack to Amy, then they’ve got to take responsibility,” he said. “I don’t want her hanging out with her mates like Pete Doherty either. What hope does she have if people are taking drugs around her?”
A U.S. spokesperson for the Grammy-winning artist could not be reached for comment at press time, but a British spokesperson told the BBC News, “If that’s what Mitch says, that’s what he says. It sounds right.”
Winehouse said the hospitalization and the current treatment his daughter is getting for her well-publicized battle with drug addiction could help save the 24-year-old singer’s life. “If she doesn’t go back to drugs, then she can lead this magnificent life,” he said. “We are praying that that’s what Amy really wants. She seems resolute.”
With the diagnosis in hand, Winehouse said there’s no medical reason why his daughter shouldn’t be able to perform her scheduled shows at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday celebration on Friday and the Glastonbury festival on Saturday. In fact, he said that in the past, live performance and work have helped keep Winehouse away from drugs.
“If she hadn’t done recent shows in Moscow and Portugal, she could have been dead by now,” he said. “She abstains and regulates her drug use when she has to do a show.”