The cause of his death was a result of bile-duct cancer in his liver. Redford's wife, Kyle, shared the news first on social media, explaining that his disease returned two years ago with the cancer discovered last November. Doctors learned of the severity of his liver disease as he was awaiting a liver transplant. Bile-duct cancer, also known as Cholangiocarcinoma, is rare among patients with three different types depending on where the cancer is located. The Mayo Clinic lists the tumor as "very difficult to treat." The cause of this form of cancer sees cells in the bile duct mutate its DNA, causing cells to grow out of control and causing a tumor to form. Redford had reportedly struggled with his health early on in his life. In 1993 he needed multiple liver transplants and also was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis.
Jamie died today. We’re heartbroken. He lived a beautiful, impactful life & was loved by many. He will be deeply missed. As his wife of 32 yrs, I’m most grateful for the two spectacular children we raised together. I don’t know what we would’ve done w/o them over the past 2yrs. pic.twitter.com/ynDN2jSZ04— kyle redford (@kyleredford) October 16, 2020
Due to his bout with health, Redford founded the James Redford Institute for Transplant Awareness. This non-profit was created to educate people about organs and setup tissue donations. According to his website, the late activist waited six months for a donor to save his life. The organization also sought to raise awareness through film, which saw Redford's institution produce three films spotlight donors and the process, "We strive to educate people, and in particular youth, about the miracle of transplantation."
In her post, Redford's wife said the family is "heartbroken" following his death. She said her husband "lived a beautiful, impactful life." The two were married for 32 years and welcomed two children into the world, Dylan and Lena. Along with his foundation, he and his father also co-founded The Redford Center in 2005, another non-profit emphasizing filmmaking. This one provided grants to aspiring filmmakers who are looking to produce content having to do with real-world issues such as climate change.