Actress Anne Heche, the former partner of Ellen DeGeneres, has been declared brain dead, a representative for Heche told the Los Angeles Times.
Several outlets have reported that Heche died Friday morning, but her “heart is still beating,” rep Holly Baird said.
“She was declared brain dead last night but has been kept on life support for organ donation,” Baird told the Times in a Friday email. Medical personnel are determining if any of Heche's organs are in a condition to be donated after Heche's injuries in a fiery car accident a week ago.
Brain death meets the legal definition of death.
She crashed her car into a house in Los Angeles, setting the car and house on fire. Police said she had narcotics in her system. She suffered severe burns and a brain injury in the crash, had been put on a ventilator, and was in a coma.
Philanthropist Nancy Davis, a close friend of Heche's, announced via Instagram that the actress had died. “Heaven has a new Angel," she wrote.
A representative for Heche's family released this statement, TMZ reports: "We have lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend. Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy. Her bravery for always standing in her truth, spreading her message of love and acceptance, will continue to have a lasting impact."
She and DeGeneres were in a relationship from 1997 to 2000 and were a high-profile couple after DeGeneres came out as a lesbian.
They appeared together on Oprah Winfrey’s show and many others. Their breakup was very public, amid reports that Heche was wandering disoriented along a road in central California and went into a stranger’s home. The couple released a statement calling their parting “amicable.” Heche later said that being in a same-sex romance cost her work in Hollywood, but she was proud to have been “part of a revolution that created social change.”
Heche later married a man, camera operator Coley Laffoon, and then was in a relationship with James Tupper. She has had one child with each. She authored an autobiography, Call Me Crazy, and talked about being the daughter of a closeted gay man.
A photographer encountered DeGeneres in Santa Barbara, Calif., this week and asked her about Heche's accident. DeGeneres said they were not in touch. In response to being asked if she will be giving well-wishes for Heche’s recovery, DeGeneres said, "I don't want anyone to be hurt.”
Heche’s films included Donnie Brasco, Wag the Dog, John Q, and Gus Van Sant’s remake of Psycho. She appeared in numerous TV series and was Emmy-nominated for one of them, Gracie’s Choice. She won a Daytime Emmy for her role in the soap opera Another World early in her career, and she received GLAAD’s Stephen F. Kolzak Award in 2000, honoring her as an LGBTQ+ media professional who has advanced acceptance of the community.
Recently, she had a recurring role on the TV series All Rise and wrapped a Lifetime movie, Girl in Room 13. She and Heather Duffy had a podcast, Better Together With Anne and Heather.
Girl in Room 13, in which Heche played the mother of a human-trafficking victim, is set to air in September.
“This project is important to Anne, along with each and every one of us. We all started to make a film that would bring attention to the appalling issue of human sex trafficking,” Lifetime executive Amy Winter said Thursday. “We hope that this film moves you and that you are just as inspired as Anne was to help us with our mission to stop violence against women.”