Roker’s wife, Deborah Roberts, revealed that most people didn’t know just how sick the ‘TODAY’ weatherman was during his recent health battle.
WASHINGTON — Al Roker is back!
The beloved “TODAY” weatherman made his return to the morning show Friday after more than a month off-air recovering from clots in his lungs and legs.
Roker was joined by his wife, ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts, to give an update on his health and what exactly happened during his life-threatening ordeal.
“I had two complicating things. I had blood clots that they think came up after I had COVID in September and I had this internal bleeding going on,” Roker revealed. “I lost almost half my blood.”
The first time he was hospitalized in early November, Roker said his team of doctors couldn’t initially figure out where he was bleeding from, forcing them to do major surgery to find and repair the damage.
“Two bleeding ulcers, they had to resection the colon, take out my gallbladder, redo my (insides),” Roker described.
“I went in for one operation, I got four free,” he joked.
Roker’s wife, Roberts, said she wasn’t sure at first if he was going to make it.
“Al was a very, very, very sick man, and I think most people didn’t know that. He was a medical mystery for a couple weeks. It was the most tumultuous, frightening journey we have ever been on,” she said. “It’s not lost on us that this is a major, major thing for Al to be here. He is a living, breathing miracle.”
She said she knew he would be alright after one particular conversation in the hospital.
“Al and I were sitting there one day in the hospital and through this very scratchy voice….he said ‘I’m gonna make a spatchcock turkey (for Christmas).’ I didn’t know whether to burst into tears or just to beam,” Roberts said. “I’m sitting here hoping he’s going to make it to Christmas and he wants to make a turkey.”
Roker was first admitted to the hospital in November because of blood clots in his lungs and legs. The hospitalization caused him to miss his first Thanksgiving Day Parade in 27 years, although Roker did watch the event on TV.
He was initially released on Thanksgiving, but was reportedly rushed back to the hospital a day later due to “complications.”
It’s unclear exactly what complication led to Roker being hospitalized again. He was released from the hospital for the second time on Dec. 8 and sent home to rest.
A few days after he returned home, Roker got a holiday surprise from his co-hosts. Dozens of “Today” staffers and crew members, clad in Santa Claus hats, gathered outside his door to sing some Christmas songs.
“I’ve missed you all so, so very much, all these faces,” Roker told the crowd. “It just means the world to me and to our family and my Deborah, who’s just been my rock. I just thank you so much. I really appreciate it.”
Back in 2020, Roker was off the air for a couple weeks after undergoing surgery to have his prostate removed. Roker revealed at the time that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer but that they had caught it early. Roker explained at the time that he decided to publicly share his diagnosis to encourage others — particularly Black men, who studies indicate face greater risk — to ensure they see a doctor and get the proper checkups to stop a cancer that is very treatable if detected early.
But Savannah Guthrie, one of his TODAY co-hosts, noted that his latest hospital visit was different from previous ones. After previous medical issues, Roker “skipped” back into the studio, she said. This time, it was dicier.
Roker attributed his recovery to the support he received from family and viewers.
According to Roberts, she couldn’t step onto the street without people telling her they were wishing the best for Roker. Once, when she tried to surreptitiously go to the grocery store, a woman tapped her on the shoulder in an aisle and said she was praying for Roker.
“The amount of goodwill toward you, I will never, ever forget or take for granted,” she told her husband.