AUSTIN (KXAN) - Hospital officials have upgraded Albert "Leslie" Cochran'scondition to "fair," the first official signal that thecross-dressing Austin icon is improving after brain surgeryfollowing a fall on Oct. 3.
Family members had told KXAN that Cochran was removed from ICUat University Medical Center Brackenridge and is expected tosurvive his head injury, which happened in the early morning hoursof 1 a.m. after he collapsed next to a taxi on Oltorf nearI-35.
Tuesday afternoon's announcement was the first time hospitalofficials had acknowledged Cochran's presence at the hospital orhis condition, citing federal privacy laws. Family members saidthey got in touch with them earlier Tuesday.
Alice Cochran Masterson, Cochran's sister, said he'll probablyneed assisted living for the rest of his life.
"He is improving, and he will probably have to go into some kindof living facility. He won’t be able to live on his own,"Masterson said. "But he is going to survive, he is improving. Theydon’t ever think he’ll be able to live on the streetsagain."
A public vigil is being planned at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 13,on Red River between 12th and 15th Streets - at the driveway intoUMC Brackenridge.
A friend of Cochran's said he is showing little to no signs ofbrain activity.
EMS officials said an ambulance was called to the scene after awitness saw Cochran acting oddly on the sidewalk. The call came inaround 12:50 a.m. on Oct. 3. Cochran then fell in front of a taxi.When EMS arrived on the scene, medics say he was alreadyunconscious.
EMS called ahead for a trauma team to meet Cochran when hearrived at Brackenridge Hospital. Officials at the hospital havedeclined to confirm he was there, citing rules against officialrelease of information.
But family members have been able to get some informationabout his condition from sources close to the hospital, who toldher at noon on Tuesday that he had brain surgery to relievebleeding and swelling after his fall more than a week ago.
"He’ll have to have monitored care. He’s in a stepjust below ICU right now. From there he’ll move to a regularroom at this point. They expect thim to continually get better, buthow much better he’s going to get is unknown," she said. "Buthe is on the road to improvement. He will survive. People need toknow that. People need to know he isn't dead."
Cochran, 58, is "arguably the most locally famous street personin Austin" according to his Wikipedia article. He is often seendowntown wearing women's clothing, and has run for mayor. He is astaunch advocate for the rights of homeless people.
The family member said he spent two years in college and spenttime in the Navy as well. He's lived his current "unique" lifestylefor a few decades, she said, and "he is who he is. He’s aunique individual. He’s Albert."
"He likes the publicity. He likes the media, and he likes who heis. He’s a highly intelligent person, and he’s happydoing what he’s doing," she said. "We have respected Albertand his lifestyle and how he wants to live."
Laughing, she added: "We don’t agree with it, but we haverespected it."
It's not uncommon for folks visiting downtown to approach Lesliefor photographs with the scantily clad man. He almost alwaysobliges.
Leslie is so popular, he even has his own line of dress-uprefrigerator magnets that can be purchased at stores across Austin.The paper-doll-style magnet set includes a mini-skirt, acheerleader outfit and leopard print dress, with accessories, thatyou can use to dress up the Austin icon.
Jimmy Haddox owns the Wet Salon on South Congress. He startedthe magnet franchise in 2006 with an agreement that Leslie wouldget half the proceeds. Haddox has since handed over the entirefranchise to Leslie. He said Thursday he has not seen Leslie in afew weeks, but would not be surprised if something bad didhappen.
"He didn't look too great last time I saw him," Haddox saidduring a telephone interview last Thursday.
KXAN Austin News will post more details on his condition as theybecome available.
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