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Leslie Cochran Prognosis: ‘It's Up to Leslie in Many Respects'

Cochran photographed at the Pecan Street Festival.
Photo courtesy
Cochran photographed at the Pecan Street Festival.

We reported earlier this week on the hospitalization of Leslie Cochran, Austin’s ambassador of weirdness. A spokesperson for Cochran told KUT News that two weeks ago, Cochran was found unconscious in a South Austin parking lot, requiring hospitalization and surgery.

Cochran’s spokesperson and friend Debbie Russell characterized his condition as “wait and see.” Russell says Cochran’s condition had since deteriorated, but then suddenly changed. Russell recounts events from yesterday in an email:  

Several of his close friends were summoned to the hospital believing they were about to be helping Leslie pass on … By 4:00pm, 10 of his friends (many not knowing the others previously) were packed tightly around his bed swapping Leslie stories and speaking to Leslie directly, simultaneously joking and relaying loving messages … He had already been stirring by this moment, responding to the many familiar voices in the room relaying their love. Lo and behold, he woke up. After 13 consecutive unconscious days, he regained consciousness. He responded with hand squeezes to questions. He looked at people as they spoke to him. He held our hands (with his right one, his left is still mostly asleep). Then when we explained they were preparing to take the breathing tube out, he lifted his arm and gave us a big "thumbs up!" WOW! Tears turned to cautious smiles and the prospect of removing the tube became increasingly joyous instead of frightening.

Russell says Cochran is now breathing on his own, and will be moved from intensive care. Still, she says there isn’t a clear prognosis for Cochran going forward: “There are too many variables,” she says. “It's up to Leslie in many respects.”

Local retailer BookPeople has launched a fundraising drive for Cochran, which you can read about on its website. A “vigil-party” is also being held at Goody Two Shoes tonight as part of South Congress’ First Thursday festivities, where participants can make donations and sign a giant “Get Well Soon” card for Cochran. And a Facebook page, “Love for Leslie” has also been set up to coordinate information and share stories about Cochran. 

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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