FLU-ravaged Burt Reynolds collapsed at home and might have died if not for a chance visit by friends who rushed him to the hospital, say sources.
Alone and helpless, the 77-year-old Hollywood legend was battling a high fever, suffering severe dehydration and slurring his words after stubbornly refusing to get help for a devastating case of flu, the sources add.
Doctors in the Intensive Care Unit at a hospital near his home in Hobe Sound, Fla., fought a 24-hour battle to stabilize the “Deliverance” star, who’d undergone quintuple heart bypass surgery a few years ago.
The life or death drama unfolded on the morning of Jan. 25.
“It was incredible luck that a woman friend called Burt just to check on him,” a close source told The ENQUIRER. “He sounded so bad his pal immediately thought he’d suffered a stroke.”
She and another friend raced to his house and were rocked by what they found.
“ Burt looked like he was almost dead,” said the close source. “He couldn’t even get to his feet without assistance.
“If those friends hadn’t shown up when they did, he probably would have died right there because Burt is a stubborn ol’ boy and he had no intention of calling for help or going to the hospital on his own.
“His health has been been very bad for some time, but he’s in such poor financial shape he can no longer afford the round-the-clock care he needs.
“He actually told pals, ‘I’ve had enough – I’m ready to go.’ ”
But by the following day, the aging screen legend’s fever had gone down and his overall condition was improving.
Still, the crisis left his pals shaken.
Said one of them: “It makes you wonder when Burt’s luck is finally going to run out.”