It's been a year this month since Leonard Nimoy's passing at the age of 83 from COPD. His family is keeping his legacy alive and working to educate people about the dangers of smoking, and the deadliness of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Leonard Nimoy was known as "Mr. Spock" from the original Star Trek franchise, and his various philanthropic initiatives for the advancement of performing arts. Mr. Nimoy died on February 27th after battling severe COPD for two years.
"COPD is the third biggest killer in the country. My father spent his last year trying to warn people about it, and this is the mission that we’ve taken on," Julie Nimoy, his daughter, tells Newsmax Health.
An estimated 11 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with COPD, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The American Lung Association estimates that there are an additional 13 million people who suffer from COPD but have either gone undiagnosed or are not aware they have it.
If diagnosed with COPD early, you have a much higher survival rate. When caught in the mild to moderate stages, the patient survival rate is 40 to 70% over the course of 5 years from the time of diagnosis. If caught in the severe stages, the survival rate is much lower, which is why early detection is so critical.
“People are either unaware of the early warning signs of COPD, or they are afraid to go to the doctor so the disease is usually not diagnosed until it is very advanced,” says David Knight, who is raising funding and working on a documentary entitled “COPD: Highly Illogical”. Nimoy's last wish was to educate people about the dangers of COPD.
After being diagnosed with COPD in 2013, Nimoy's daughter Julie explains that her father went from being very active to needing a portable oxygen concentrator to help treat his condition quickly.
“He got to the point where he couldn’t manage the higher elevation of Lake Tahoe, so he decided to sell the house because it made him too sad to think about all the things he couldn’t do there anymore," she recalls.
Nimoy was very private in his affairs, including his health, but decided to speak about his COPD publicly in 2014.
“He was at an airport, seated in a wheelchair, with his oxygen, and photographers spotted him. The photos went out with the headline, ‘What’s wrong with Leonard Nimoy?’, so my father decided to go on CNN and say, ‘This is what I have, and I want to tell you about it,’” she says.
During his interview with CNN Nimoy expressed his feeling of anger and shock when he learned that smoking, the habit he quit 30 years before, had caused his illness.
After the interview, Nimoy became an activist with a purpose of educating others about COPD, the risks of smoking, and the importance of early detection.
“When my dad was diagnosed with COPD, he couldn’t believe it. But then he learned that the damage is done when you smoke, no matter how long ago you had quit" says Julie. She remembers her father saying, "I quit smoking, and I got this. If I could get it, anybody could, so I have to get the word out on this right away”.
In fact, Nimoy was so ardent that he continued sending messages on Twitter up to just weeks before he passed. “Don’t Smoke. I did. Wish I never had. LLAP.” (“Live Long and Prosper.”)
Together, let's continue Lenard Nimoy's legacy and never stop pushing to raise awareness of the dangers of smoking and the adverse health effects that they cause.