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'I lost half my blood'

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Al Roker returned to Today after a two-month absence.  He revealed that, in addition to having blood clots, he had undergone major surgery, including a colon resection.  (Photo: Today)

Al Roker returned to Today after two months of absence. He revealed that, in addition to having blood clots, he underwent major surgery, including a colon resection. (Photo: Today)

Al Roker returned to Today show after a life-threatening health battle.

The weather anchor, who has been off the air for over two months as he recovered from back-to-back hospitalizations while dealing with blood clots and internal bleeding that required major surgery, was greeted by colleagues Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie as soon as he arrived at the NBC’s Studio 1A at 30 Rockefeller Plaza on Friday.

“Yes!” shouted Kotb in the clip as Roker, 68, exited the elevator in a full suit and hat accompanied by his wife, Deborah Roberts of ABC News. “You’re home,” Guthrie told him.

At the start of the show, Guthrie said, “It’s a very special Friday morning. I’m sorry but the tears are already falling. Al Roker is back! … To say we miss you doesn’t even begin to describe it. No It’s nothing without you here.”

Hotb said the team were “tearful” and the crowd outside “were upset every day we left” without him. “They say, ‘Where’s Al?'” Outside, fans held up a sign reading “Welcome back Al” and held up posters of his smiling face.

Roker called everyone behind the show his “second family” and said “it’s great to be back – and wearing pants” after a month-long hospitalization followed by recovery at home. He said his heart was “bursting” when his peers went out of their way, including welcoming him with their sensational music, the A team theme song.

Roker’s sense of humor, a constant since he joined the show in 1996, was on even when he admitted he was full of adrenaline. Later in the show, when Carson Daly made a joke about Kotb using Roker’s dressing room as additional closet space while he was away, Roker responded, “Actually, they already cleaned them out. [But] I’m using her Spanx right now. These are fantastic!”

Roker’s health journey was discussed in detail in later segments. He first felt stomach pains, but it got worse and among the problems he had blood clots in his lungs, which doctors suspect was caused by him having COVID in September. However, this was associated with the complication of mysterious internal bleeding that required surgery and revealed two bleeding ulcers. He also had colonic resection surgery, where part or all of the colon is removed, and had his gallbladder removed.

Roker said, “I lost half my blood” amid the illness and recovered in a surgical ICU.

Roker’s gastroenterologist, Felice H. Schnoll-Sussman, described herself as “extraordinarily concerned. He had a life-threatening experience. There’s no doubt about it.” Roker credited her, her internal medicine specialist Jay Raman, and the rest of her medical staff with “saving her life”.

As far as her health going forward, Schnoll-Sussman said she needs TLC right now — through time, good food, rest, and being with loved ones.

Roker’s family, including his wife and three children, were by his side as he recovered. Roberts from rival ABC News joined them on the show to talk about helping Roker get back on his feet.

When Kotb pointed out that people probably didn’t realize how dire Roker’s situation was and that he had to be “saved”, Roberts said, “It’s not lost on us that this is an important thing for Al to be here. He’s a living miracle. He really is. I’m not exaggerating, I think. Al was a very, very, very sick man and I don’t think most people knew that.”

Roberts revealed that Roker’s condition was “a medical mystery for a few weeks”, undergoing tests, scopes before “major, major surgery”.

“It was the most tumultuous and frightening journey we’ve ever taken,” she admitted.

Roberts said her first sign that everything was going to be okay was when a “thin and exhausted” Roker, who barely had a voice, whispered to her from her hospital bed, “I’m going to make a spatchcock turkey for Christmas,” she said. she recalled with a laugh.

“That was the moment for me… I’m sitting here waiting for him to get to Christmas and he wants to make a turkey,” she laughed. “I just knew in that moment – that urge, that drive.”

Roker praised his wife and family for helping him get through this. “I had no idea how bad it was,” he admitted, saying Roberts shielded him from it.

Al Roker's wife, Deborah Roberts, joined him to talk about his health battle.  She admitted that she feared the worst.  (Photo: Today)

Al Roker’s wife, Deborah Roberts, joined him to talk about his health battle. “Al was a very, very sick man and I don’t think most people knew that,” she admitted. (Photo: Today)

“I’m grateful to have this woman by my side, all of you and you home,” he said. “The prayer, you could feel it.”

Roker added that his doctors told him that if he hadn’t been in the shape he was in, as he documents his daily walks on the Start Today show, “this could have been a different outcome.”

Roker has not been on the air since November. He missed his first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in two decades, as well as the lighting of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. A sweet moment was the Today it features anchors and crew coming to your house to serenade you with Christmas music.

Roker was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2020. He had his prostate removed and had surgeries to correct hip and knee issues. He also had gastric bypass surgery in 2002.