The Harrowing Health Scare That Once Left Pat Sajak Fearing For His Life

Pat Sajak has been the host of the award-winning game show "Wheel of Fortune" for over 40 years. He and his co-host, Vanna While, have been so dedicated to the show that Sajak never missed a day of filming for the show up until 2019 when he found himself in the hospital.

Prior to being rushed to the hospital, it was a normal day. Sajak went through his normal morning routine and went on his daily walk with his daughter Maggie. After the walk, however, he began experiencing intense stomach pain that wouldn't relent. Only two and a half hours passed between the pain's onset and the beginning of surgery.

Sajak remained off-camera and focused on recovery for the next three weeks. Vanna White took over as the lead host for the first time. "It was very scary for me to step into that role, especially without any practice, but I did it," White told the NY Post. "I think in the back of my mind the hardest part was that I was so concerned about Pat and his health — I was very disturbed by that, to tell you the truth."

Near-death experience

Pat Sajak eventually learned that a blocked intestine and a drastic dip in blood pressure are what triggered the pain and sent him to the hospital. When he got there, he described in an interview with Good Morning America that he was lying in a fetal position, overcome by pain, as doctors tried to find a medication that would help alleviate it. It took them a while, but some medication eventually started working and blocked out the pain.

During this time, he said he could hear his family talking to each other but it sounded distant. "It sounded like they were a mile off, but they were right next to me," he told Good Morning America. "They were talking to each other. And I remember thinking, not in a morbid way, 'I think this must be death. This must be what death is like.'"

While he thought death was approaching, he said he wasn't worried for himself. "I didn't feel badly about dying. I felt badly that they were gonna have to deal with the aftermath. As it turned out, I was just high," he explained on Good Morning America. The medication was working, and eventually, the surgery did too. Sajak was set for recovery, and within a month, he was back on the show.

The future for Sajak

Pat Sajak's health issues were nearly fatal. This proved to be a worrisome time for his family, who was by his side while all of it unfolded. They were relieved when he came out on the other side in great shape. "It was a difficult time for all of us when my father had his surgery but I was so happy to help out on the show," Sajak's daughter, Maggie Sajak, told Fox News. She went on to add that she is happy that he father was able to return to hosting "Wheel of Fortune." "I'm happy that the shows went well, but I'm even happier that my father has returned to work," Maggie Sajak said.

Sajak has been back on "Wheel of Fortune" ever since his doctors cleared him. There haven't been any more health scares, at least not public ones, but there was a recent announcement. Sajak filled in the blanks about his future by announcing his retirement after season 41 on Twitter. This announcement stirred questions about what's next and whether or not Vanna White will replace him as host.

As for now, Sajak remains the host. "When we started 'Wheel of Fortune' who could have imagined we'd still be at it 41 seasons later?" White Tweeted. "I couldn't be happier to have shared the stage with you for all these years with one more to come. Cheers to you."