Lamar Odom continued to fight for his life in a Las Vegas hospital on Thursday, days after the former Laker and reality television star collapsed in a brothel after ingesting what officials said was a mashup of herbal sexual stimulants, cocaine and alcohol.
Khloe Kardashian, part of the hyper-visible celebrity clan, has been at her estranged husband’s bedside since Odom was hospitalized after being found unconscious on Tuesday at the Love Ranch in Crystal, Nev.
Kardashian, whose divorce from Odom is not final, has been making medical decisions about his treatment, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Times.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson told reporters on Wednesday that Odom was intubated.
Odom, a former Lakers and Clippers star, had taken cocaine and about 10 doses of a sexual stimulant in the days before he was found by brothel workers, a Nevada sheriff said. Odom had taken multiple 1,875-milligram doses of a packaged supplement called Reload 72-Hour Strong Sexual Performance Enhancer for Men over three days, according to Richard Hunter, a spokesman for the legal brothel.
Nye County sheriff's Det. Michael Eisenloffel said Odom obtained the supplement over the weekend at the Love Ranch Vegas. The supplements are legal, “as far as I know,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
Standing in the Love Ranch doorway, shift manager Lawanna Olberding said on Thursday that the capsules are available at the ranch store and elsewhere. “You can get them at gas stations,” she said.
Despite their easy availability, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has repeatedly warned against such products also known as “herbal Viagra.” The products are unregulated and often have contaminants that could be dangerous, especially if mixed with alcohol and illegal drugs, the FDA says.
In 2013, the agency issued a warning about a supplement called Reload because lab tests showed it contained sildenafil, the active agent in prescription Viagra. The product's ingredient list did not include the drug, which can cause deadly problems for those with heart conditions and other ailments.
The FDA does not know if the substance used by Odom is the same product that prompted its warning, Lyndsay Meyer, an agency spokeswoman, told the Los Angeles Times. The FDA has issued public warnings against hundreds of such herbal supplements since 2011, she said.
In general, however, the producers and distributors of the supplements are acting outside the law, but it is difficult to prevent their distribution, she said. When a public warning is issued, suppliers simply just change the name of the product and sell it through a new website.
“The problem is that the supplements are available online, in stores, in flea markets,” she said. “It is next to impossible to get them out of the supply chain.”
Officials have sent blood samples to be tested hoping to find out what drugs may have played a role in Odom’s condition.
Meanwhile, the desert brothel has turned into a tourist destination. Divorce attorney Tina Bennet of Phoenix, N.Y., drove in from Las Vegas with her mother and husband for the typical tourist fare, including Hoover Dam and Death Valley. The Love Ranch Vegas was added to the list when they saw the news that Odom was in the hospital.
“I want a T-shirt,” Bennet, 49, said as she sat in her rental car Thursday waiting for her husband, Richard Foley, to come out of the brothel after he talked his way in.
He emerged with a black plastic bag.
“I got some prophylactics,” he laughed across the parking lot before pausing. “Nah, just a T-shirt.”
He held it proudly against his chest.
“I told them I was with my wife and mother-in-law and they let me in,” he said. “They took pity on me.”
Wanda Rice, 57, of New Richmond, Wis., pulled up to the ranch in a minivan with two girlfriends during a trip through the state.
“This would be great to get pictures of,” she said before asking a photographer from the New York Daily News to take a photo of the group.
Mona Cox of Pahrump, Nev., brought a friend who is visiting from California. She wanted to go inside but couldn’t because Olberding was busy giving tours of the room where Odom had stayed to CNN and Univision journalists.
“All I want is a T-shirt,” Cox, 61, said.
After finishing her media escort duties, Olberding took a break in the courtyard and looked around at the tourists.
“It is so morbid,” she said.
Odom, 35, came to Love Ranch Vegas seeking privacy. The brothel in this high-desert community is about 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
A Love Ranch employee picked up Odom at his Las Vegas home and brought him to the brothel on Saturday, spokesman Hunter said.
It was Odom's first visit to the squat, one-story beige complex, Hunter said. Odom ordered a bottle of cognac and picked two women to accompany him for his stay in the brothel's VIP suite, which owner Dennis Hof usually uses when he visits the property.
For the most part, Odom kept to himself other than to say hello to brothel workers, Hunter and a brothel manager said. Odom did not want contact from people during his stay and went so far as to turn off or ignore his cellphone, Hunter said.
The brothel, near the Last Chance mountain range, is "appealing to celebrities because of the seclusion," he said. "This place, you really have to know where you're going to get here."
Odom told a prostitute he had used “a small amount” of cocaine before he arrived Saturday, Hunter said, but workers did not see him consume any cocaine at the brothel, where drug use is prohibited.
When Odom's two female companions left him Monday night, he was "alert and communicative," Hunter said.
The pair checked in on him Tuesday afternoon, found him unresponsive and called for help.
“All I know is that he’s close to not breathing,” Mitzy Jones, a brothel manager, told a 911 dispatcher in two calls.
“They need to hurry, please, because he’s got blood coming out of his nose, white stuff coming out of his mouth," Jones, said. "We can’t get him to wake up. He’s, like, almost not breathing.”
It reportedly took three paramedics and Hunter to each grab a corner of the bed sheet and move Odom onto a gurney.
Times staff writer Amy Kaufman in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
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