Maurice Gibb Dies at 53

Gibb, a member of the Bee Gees, is remembered as outgoing and inspiring

Maurice Gibb died at Mount Sinai Medical Center on Sunday, January 12, 2003. Gibb was best known for being one-third of the pop band the Bee Gees.

His family—wife Yvonne, son Adam, and daughter Samantha—were at his bedside when he died. He was 53.

Gibb was working on new music with Michael Jackson and his brother Barry Gibb before his unexpected death. Barry Gibb was also a member of the Bee Gees.

This article discusses the life and death of Maurice Gibb. It also discusses the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of volvulus, the condition that led to Gibb's death.

Bee Gees Brothers in Miami, Florida in 1978
Michael Brennan / Getty Images

What Was Maurice Gibb's Cause of Death?

Gibb was rushed to Mount Sinai Medical Center in January of 2003. He had been having intense abdominal pain. The pain was due to a twisted section in his small intestine. This condition is called a volvulus. The twisting blocked the intestine and cut off its blood supply.

While awaiting surgery, Gibb reportedly went into cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is when the heart stops beating. This weakened his condition.

Surgeons removed the damaged section of intestine. After surgery, Gibb was listed in "critical but stable" condition. However, he died at 1 a.m. the next morning.


Maurice Gibb died after surgery to remove a damaged section of small intestine.

Biography of Maurice Gibbs

The pop group the Bee Gees featured brothers Barry, Maurice, and Robin Gibb. The group became an international sensation in the 1970s.

Maurice Gibb played keyboard, guitar, bass, and percussion for the Bee Gees. He sang the high notes during three-part harmonies and wrote many of the band's hit songs.

In the 1980s, as disco music declined in popularity, the Bee Gees were taken less seriously. Today, though, they are considered musical pioneers. In 1997 they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Of the five Gibb children, Barry Gibb and sister Lesley are the only remaining siblings. Barry Gibb is the last surviving member of the Bee Gees.

Robin Gibb died on May 20, 2012. Andy, the youngest brother, died in 1988. Andy was a musician with a successful solo career. The Gibb siblings' mother, Barbara Gibb, died in 2016.

The Bee Gees had nine Billboard number one hits. Their biggest hits include "How Deep Is Your Love?," "Stayin' Alive," and "You Should Be Dancing."

About Bowel Obstruction

Volvulus is one cause of an intestinal obstruction, or blockage. There are many other possible causes, including:

  • Scar tissue
  • Tumors
  • Hernias, when an organ protrudes through a weak section of muscle
  • Diverticulitis, inflammation of a diverticulum, or a pouch that forms in the wall of the colon
  • Swallowing a foreign object
  • Polyps, growths on the wall of the colon
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a condition that causes inflammation of the bowel

In most cases, there is no way to prevent a blockage.

Sometimes the bowel is completely blocked. This requires emergency surgery. 

Without surgery, sections of the intestine may die. This can lead to serious complications like infection or sepsis, a life-threatening reaction to an infection.

When doctors suspect volvulus, the patient is usually admitted to the hospital. The condition requires prompt treatment. 

Obstructions may be diagnosed in a number of ways, including:

  • X-rays
  • Computed tomography scan (CT scan), where multiple x-ray images are combined to form a three-dimensional image
  • Ultrasound, a scan that uses sound waves to create digital images

A barium enema may help find the obstruction. During a barium enema, a chalky substance called barium sulfate is inserted into the rectum. This substance helps radiologists get a clear x-ray picture of the large intestine.

Once doctors find the blockage, they can decide on treatment. 

In some cases, a barium enema can dissolve the blockage. In other cases, a rectal tube is inserted. This can help straighten kinks in the bowel. Sometimes surgery is necessary.

The blockage is removed during surgery. The colorectal surgeon may also remove damaged parts of the bowel.

If a hernia, polyp, tumor, or scar tissue is causing the blockage, it will be repaired or removed during surgery. The two healthy ends of the bowel are then reconnected.

With prompt and effective treatment, most patients recover without complications.

Signs of a Bowel Obstruction

  • Abdominal pain and cramping that comes and goes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Severe constipation
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Inability to pass gas or have a bowel movement
  • Vomiting


Maurice Gibb died in 2003 from complications of a bowel obstruction caused by volvulus, or twisting of the intestine. Gibb was a member the Bee Gees, a pop band that was popular during the 1970s.

A bowel obstruction can have many causes, including tumors, hernias, and twisting of the bowel. In Gibb's case, surgery was not enough to save his life.

Bowel obstruction requires immediate medical attention. Patients may be treated with a barium enema, a rectal tube, or surgery. If treated promptly, most patients recover. 

A Word From Verywell

Volvulus can be a chronic, intermittent condition. Populations most affected by chronic volvulus include people living in:

  • Africa
  • The Middle East
  • India
  • Russia

Intestinal blockage is a serious condition. If it is not treated right away, it can result in death.

Once a volvulus has happened, it is more likely to happen again. Sudden, severe abdominal pain is an emergency. This is especially true when it is accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting or not being able to move the bowels.

Seek medical attention at once if you have these symptoms. This is especially important if you have had a volvulus or an obstruction before. When caught early, obstructions can be treated effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who is most at risk of volvulus?

    People with certain health conditions that affect or put pressure on the intestines have a higher risk of volvulus. Some examples include people with Hirschsprung disease, intestinal malrotation, an enlarged colon, pregnancy, and abdominal adhesions.

    Additionally, it has been noted that people hospitalized for some neuropsychiatric disorders may have a higher risk of developing volvulus. This includes people diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis.

  • How did Andy Gibb die?

    Andy Gibb, younger brother of Maurice Gibb, died in 1988 due to myocarditis. Myocarditis is a disease that causes inflammation in the heart, which weakens the muscle and forces it to work harder.

15 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Amber J. Tresca
Amber J. Tresca is a freelance writer and speaker who covers digestive conditions, including IBD. She was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at age 16.