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No signs of drug use

Doctor testifies he didn't suspect Lewis used cocaine

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Posted: Monday May 17, 1999 11:14 PM

  Dr. Gilbert Mudge's attorney has said Lewis' admitted drug use made an accurate diagnosis impossible. AP

BOSTON (AP) -- The doctor who performed an autopsy on Celtics captain Reggie Lewis after he died while practicing jump shots testified Monday he did not see evidence the player used cocaine.

Dr. Richard Evans, the state medical examiner, said he believed a virus caused the cardiac arrhythmia that killed the 27-year-old Boston star in July 1993.

Lewis' widow, Donna Harris-Lewis, is suing three doctors who treated her husband, claiming they misdiagnosed and mistreated a fatal heart condition.

Alleged cocaine use by Lewis is expected to be a central issue when Dr. Gilbert Mudge, the player's main cardiologist, presents his case. Mudge's attorney has said that two weeks before Lewis' death the player said he used the drug, and the late admission made an accurate diagnosis impossible.

Mudge told Lewis he suffered from a neurological condition that causes fainting spells, while earlier a "Dream Team" of 12 doctors diagnosed him with a life-threatening arrhythmia.

Under questioning by Harris-Lewis' attorney, Evans said scarring found on Lewis' heart was likely caused by a virus. Lewis' official cause of death was listed as adenovirus 2, which could have led to inflammation of the heart, widespread scarring of tissue and, ultimately, a fatal cardiac arrest.

Scarring also can be caused by cocaine use.

"There was no indication this man had been a chronic user of this drug," Evans said, adding the scarring Lewis had would be "atypical" for a drug user.

On cross-examination, Mudge's attorney, Richard Dailey Jr., suggested at least five of seven consultants called in by Evans to examine Lewis' body did not agree with his findings, and some felt the scarring was consistent with cocaine use.

Dailey suggested the virus could have been present, but that there still could have been a number of other problems.

Related information
Cardiologist concedes Lewis had heart problems
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