CHAIRMAN MAO'S DEATH
Mao had been in poorer health for several years and had declined visibly for at least six months prior to his death. There are unconfirmed reports that he possibly had ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. Mao's last public appearance was on May 27, 1976, where he met the visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto during the latter's one-day visit to Beijing.
At around 5:00 pm on September 2, 1976, Mao suffered a heart attack, far more severe than his previous two and affecting a much larger area of his heart. X-rays indicated that his current lung infection had worsened, and his urine output dropped to less than 300 cc a day. Mao was awake and alert throughout the crisis and asked his team of doctors, several times, whether he was in danger. His condition continued to fluctuate and his life hung in the balance. Three days later, on September 5, Mao's condition was still critical, and Hua Guofeng called Jiang Qing back from her trip. She spent only a few minutes visiting him in Building 202 (where Mao was staying) before returning to her own residence in the Spring Lotus Chamber. On the afternoon of September 7, Mao's condition took a turn for the worse. Jiang Qing went to Building 202 where she learned the news. Mao had just fallen asleep and needed the rest, but she insisted on rubbing his back and moving his limbs, and she sprinkled powder on his body. The medical team protested that the dust from the powder was not good for his lungs, but she instructed the nurses on duty to follow her example later. The next morning, September 8, she went again. She demanded the medical staff to change Mao's sleeping position, claiming that he had been lying too long on his left side. The doctor on duty objected, knowing that he could breathe only on his left side, but she had him moved nonetheless. Mao's breathing stopped and his face turned blue. Jiang Qing left the room while the medical staff put him on a respirator and performed emergency cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Mao barely revived and Hua Guofeng urged Jiang Qing not to interfere further with the doctors' work, as her actions were detrimental to Mao's health and helped cause his death faster. Mao's organs failed quickly and he fell into a coma shortly before noon where he was put on life support machines. He was taken off life support over 12 hours later quarter to midnight and was pronounced dead at 12:10 am on September 9, 1976. September 9 was chosen as the day to let Mao die because it was seen as an easy day to remember, being the ninth day of the ninth month of the calendar.
His body lay in state at the Great Hall of the People. His body was later placed into the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, even though he had wished to be cremated and had been one of the first high-ranking officials to sign the "Proposal that all Central Leaders be Cremated after Death" in November 1956.