The Emergency Procedure That Saved Arnold Schwarzenegger's Life

While it might seem like Arnold Schwarzenegger is downright invincible — chiseled from marble, so to speak — the former bodybuilder knows that's not true. Due to a congenital heart defect, Schwarzenegger has had several heart surgeries over the years, dating back to 1997, when he had a pulmonary valve replaced.

In 2018, Schwarzenegger needed another heart surgery for his pulmonary valve. However, things took a turn for the worse during the procedure when "disaster" struck. The surgeons accidentally caused internal bleeding during a "non-invasive procedure" and were forced to cut the "Twins" actor open and repair the damage they had caused.

Schwarzenegger first acknowledged the news on Twitter in April 2018, saying, "It's true: I'm back! I went to sleep expecting to wake up with a small incision and woke up with a big one." But what exactly went wrong and what measures were taken to ensure he would live? Schwarzenegger shared the details of the event and how thankful he is to still be here.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's scary emergency open-heart surgery

Arnold Schwarzenegger's procedure was supposed to be a simple in and out surgery that would only have him in recovery for mere days. Doctors were simply replacing an old valve from 1997, which had already outlived its expectancy of 10–15 years, Schwarzenegger's representative Daniel Ketchell posted to Twitter. This was a temporary fix and never meant to last forever. However, the nightmare that followed left him struggling to count his steps as he trudged through the hospital hallways trying to recover. 

Schwarzenegger opened up about the terrifying moment in a video released through his newsletter, "Arnold's Pump Club," where he explained, "I woke up all of a sudden and the doctors [were] sitting in front of me and saying, I'm so sorry, but unlike what we planned, which was non-invasive surgery, to just go through the groins up to the heart, and replace the valve, we made a mistake and poked through the hard wall." 

Their mistake caused internal bleeding and the doctors were forced to quickly open his chest up to save his life. However, it's all about how you respond to the challenges that come at you. Schwarzenegger decided that he would do everything he could to prepare for the film, beginning with simple (literal) baby steps.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's strong support system aided his quick recovery

While the doctors made a mistake, it was their quick thinking and unique skills that ended up saving Arnold Schwarzenegger's life. However, he couldn't sit around the hospital forever. He began with just 10 steps in the hallway. Soon, he was able to walk further and further, but he felt he was hitting a wall. He called in his friends to help pump him up. It was this support group that helped keep him motivated and moving, and within just one week after the emergency surgery, Schwarzenegger was waving goodbye to the hospital.

His "Expendables" co-star and '80s rival Sylvester Stallone spoke to TMZ in 2018, saying, "Arnold's a strong man, he'll be bigger and better than ever." Stallone also joked about Schwarzenegger not giving up his love for stogies. Even someone like Schwarzenegger, the biggest and strongest out there, need to have people around them to keep them mentally and emotionally strong. His old "Terminator 2: Judgement Day" co-star Robert Patrick also chimed in on Twitter, saying, "T-800 @Schwarzenegger recharge quickly T-1000!"

Thankfully, Schwarzenegger did just that.