Al Roker Reveals He "Almost Died" During Recent Health Crisis

The Today host says he feels like he ruined a holiday for his family.

Today show host Al Roker has opened up about how serious a medical emergency he experienced last year really was. In November 2022, the TV personality was hospitalized and underwent surgery related to blood clots and internal bleeding. Soon after, in December, he was hospitalized again due to further complications. Now, Roker is sharing more about his ordeal, including that he nearly died, which his family initially chose to keep secret from him.

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In early January, Roker returned to the Today show and he and his wife, ABC News' Deborah Roberts, spoke about his health emergency with his co-hosts. Initially, Roker sought help for stomach pain, but the situation soon turned into so much more. "He was a medical mystery for a couple of weeks," Roberts said.

Roker explained, "I had two complicating things. I had blood clots that they think came up after I had COVID in September. And then I had this internal bleeding going on, I lost half my blood. They were trying to figure out where it was. And finally they went in and did the surgery."

Doctors discovered that he had two bleeding ulcers. Roker also had his colon resectioned, his gallbladder removed, and an operation on his duodenum. "I went in for one operation, I got four free," he joked.

Now, in a new interview with the podcast Your Mama's Kitchen (via People), Roker has opened up more about his recent health crisis.

"It's no secret that I had a severe medical issue, and to be completely honest, I almost died," the 69-year-old said. He added that he "didn't know it at the time," because his family didn't share the full extent of what happened so that he could focus on his recovery.

He continued, "I missed Thanksgiving, and almost missed Christmas. And I forgot how important those touchstone moments are."

The weatherman explained that he felt some guilt at the time, because of his first hospitalization happening during the November holiday. "I felt, in a sense, badly because I ruined Thanksgiving for the family and I was not going to let that happen for Christmas," he said, adding that wanting to be at home with his family at Christmas helped him be determined to recover. "It was important to me and gave me something to push for. And I made Christmas dinner."

Roker also shared that Roberts knew he was going to be OK when he woke up from being under anesthesia and he immediately started talking about a recipe he wanted to cook for Christmas. "And she said, 'OK, I think he's gonna make it,'" he recalled. During their Today show appearance, Roberts said her husband told her, "I'm going to make a spatchcock turkey."

This was not the first serious medical issue or surgery that Roker has faced. He has undergone knee and hip replacement surgeries and in 2020 was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He quickly underwent surgery that successfully removed the cancer.

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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