Maya Angelou’s caretaker did not want to resuscitate her, but was forced to try anyway


April Taylor

In a recent development regarding the passing of legendary author and poet Maya Angelou, is reporting that Angelou did not want to be resuscitated.  But at the time of her passing, the website reported that Angelou did not possess a “Do Not Resuscitate” order, which is generally required for medical personnel to not be required to attempt to revive a person who has gone into cardiac arrest or stopped breathing.  Because of this, CPR was performed on her anyway.

The caretaker who found Angelou unresponsive in her home called 911.  The 911 operator can be heard instructing Angelou’s caretaker to try to help her by performing CPR on her.  When the caretaker advises the operator that Angelou did not want to be revived, the operator asks if Angelou had an official DNR document, which is generally yellow with a stop sign on it.

The caretaker then advises the operator that she is unaware of where the paperwork would be located, but she is sure that Angelou did not want to be revived and just wanted caretakers to “let her go.”  The 911 operator then advises the caretaker that without the official DNR paperwork, she would need to at least attempt to resuscitate Angelou until medical personnel arrived.

In a statement released by her family, those close to her express their gratitude that her passing was not painful or difficult.  Here is the statement that was posted to Angelou’s Facebook page”

“Dr. Maya Angelou passed quietly in her home before 8:00 a.m. EST.  Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension.  She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being.  She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace.  The family is extremely appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love.”

The statement was written by Guy B. Johnson.


  1. ONLY THE LOWEST RAG On the face of the earth would start this madness. Let this woman REST IN PEACE. and…get a life and a job.

    • Crunchy? Really? I like them all soft and fibery. That was one of my favorite things about the buffet at the all incsiluve resort we went to in Aruba. Fresh mango at every meal! Wheeeee! I think I got my yearly allowance of vitamin C that week.

  2. Maya served her purpose here on earth by touching so many peoples lives including mine.Let her rest in peace.

  3. I’m sure Ms Angelou was on hospice and there were Directives the caregiver sounds incompetent. I know because I had my husband’s Directives changed to DNR. If you are the caregiver this is gone over with you by hospice.

  4. With respect to people who do not want this moment of confusion to distract from the life of Maya Angelou, this shows the importance of a clear directive in advance so a person’s wishes will be known and followed in a time when caretakers might panic. If you call 911, they are mandated to rescue, so caretakers need to know who to call first and in what circumstances to call 911. And I need to have a talk with my mother, and write my own advance directive. Very hard to do.

  5. Yes, I.agree ninjanurse, my father was on hospice care at home, it was the hardest thing to do, to stand and do nothing but hold him as he passed. It’s imperative information to know, have and respect. None of this information diminishes or holds a candle to the dynamic, legacy Ms Angelou has given us, everyone who loved and respected her are still raw with saddness, unfortunately media is going to always bring up things at the wrong time. Maya Angelou Rest In Peace and thank you for you wealth of information, wisdom, talent, and love, she will be missed, respected and always loved.

  6. Teresabullock on

    I believe the media is falsifying information. An intelligent, beautiful, strong woman such as Maya knew what she wanted upon her exit of this earth, sure she had all her papers in order and sure, everyone who were connected to her knew also. So, when I read about something as silly as her caretaker being forced to do anything doesn’t sound right. However, I may be wrong and if I am, I’m the first to eat my words!

  7. Can we allow her to rest in peace. Why even published this whatever took place it was momentarily it’s over. She’s gone home with the father. She shall be missed.

  8. Thank God this phenomenal woman of such grace and dignity was blessed with a transition into eternity with all the dignity and grace she deserved. So please let her rest in peace and not attempt to turn her passing into something it wasn’t…ugly.

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  11. I believe that the operator made the right choice. She was only following the guidelines and protocols set towards her. Resuscitation doesn’t work all the time, but it would be better to stick towards protocols and try to save the patient rather than second-guess the paperwork for the DNR order.
    If anything, the operator shouldn’t be put into civil action.

  12. It too would bother me enough to ripppppp it out… either in the piecing or long arm quilting phase. My eye would keep going back to that error, subtracting a little joy of accomplishment in the skills employed in the making of the quilt. Of course, I am getting more inventive at fixing k02mista2es” as my quilts evolve and the errors are new to me! Great survey question!