Widow testifies again in second malpractice trial

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The widow of former Boston Celtics captain Reggie Lewis wept several times on the witness stand, remembering the last moments spent with her husband before his death on July 27, 1993.

Donna Harris-Lewis, testifying on Friday in the second malpractice trial of Dr Gilbert Mudge, recalled how her husband went to shoot baskets that afternoon.

When the call came that he had collapsed at the practice court, Harris-Lewis said she rushed to the hospital, where she whispered words of encouragement into his lifeless body.

"I told him, 'Hang in there. Everything's going to be OK,"' she said.

Much of Harris-Lewis' testimony mirrored what she said last year in an earlier trial involving Mudge, a cardiologist who diagnosed her husband with a benign fainting disorder and cleared him to return to the court just a few months before he died. The jury deadlocked in the earlier trial on whether Mudge was negligent in handling Lewis' care. Two other doctors were acquitted in that case.

Harris-Lewis recounted the days of the couple's courtship, Lewis' joy at being chosen as a first-round draft pick by the Boston Celtics, and their alarm and confusion after a dozen doctors from New England Deaconess Hospital diagnosed Lewis with a potentially fatal heart arrhythmia after he collapsed collapsed during a 1993 NBA playoff game.

"I miss the love of my life," she told the jury.

Harris-Lewis said she and her husband were never briefed properly by the specialists at New England Deaconess, despite pleas for more information and details about Lewis' condition.

"We needed some doctors that would talk to us ... give us a second opinion," she said.

The Lewises approached Mudge, who gave them a much less dire diagnosis, although Mudge claims he warned Lewis not to exercise.

Mudge's attorney, William Dailey, quizzed Harris-Lewis about a conversation the trio had about Hank Gathers, a college basketball star who collapsed and died on the court.

But Harris-Lewis testified that the conversation was not about Lewis specifically, and her husband believed he was to avoid professional competition only.

Also at issue on Friday was whether Lewis missed any of the medication Mudge had prescribed.

Drugstore receipts produced by Dailey indicated that Reggie was without medicine for about nine days between prescription refills. But Harris-Lewis denied her husband ever went without medicine, claiming he had been given extra pills by a hospital nurse.

Harris-Lewis' lawyer, Neil Rossman, pointed out that Mudge had never ordered the couple to avoid sex - as many heart patients are warned to do - and in fact the Lewises second child was conceived during the months that Lewis was under Mudge's care.

Before Harris-Lewis took the stand, attorneys read a deposition from Mudge that included information about alleged cocaine use by Lewis, another factor Mudge has claimed could have contributed to the star's sudden death.

In the court documents, Mudge said Lewis admitted using cocaine in the past in a private conversation just two weeks before the basketball star's death.

Mudge said Lewis was so uncomfortable discussing the matter, the Celtic could only shake his head affirmatively when Mudge asked him if he had experimented with the drug.

Mudge said the conversation spurred him to plan further testing on Lewis.

Harris-Lewis has insisted that her husband did not use drugs.

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