Elton John Recalls Near-Fatal Health Scare in New Autobiography: '24 Hours Away from Death'
In an excerpt from his new book Me, the performer recalls being '24 hours away from death' after contracting a post-surgery infection
Sir Elton John drops a number of bombshells in his forthcoming autobiography, Me.
Among the many shocking revelations, the legendary musician, 72, opens up about how close he came to death after contracting a massive infection following a 2017 surgery for prostate cancer.
In the book, which was excerpted in the Daily Mail, he remembers praying, “Please don’t let me die — please let me see my kids again.”
In 2017, John had a successful surgery in Los Angeles to treat his prostate cancer, which was detected during a routine checkup. But 10 days later, John began experiencing pain while performing a show in Las Vegas. He was “leaking fluid” from his lymph nodes, he writes; it was a rare complication from the surgery, but it was cured “by accident” when doctors performed a routine colonoscopy a couple months later, just a few days shy of his 70th birthday.
However, John wasn’t out of the woods yet. As the singer recalls in the excerpt, he was on a flight back from a tour in South America when he noticed that he “couldn’t stop shaking.” In the book, he writes that he felt “worse than I ever had in my life” by the time he was checked into King Edward VII’s Hospital back home in London. “Given some of the hangovers I’d had in the ’70s and ’80s, that was saying something,” he says.
But soon after he was admitted, John recalls, “I was told that my condition was so serious, the hospital didn’t have the equipment to cope with it.”
After being moved to a different facility, John had another surgery to have lymphatic fluid drained, and he spent the next two days in intensive care, according to the Daily Mail excerpt.
“When I came round, they told me I’d contracted a major infection in South America,” John writes. It was far more serious than doctors first suspected — he says doctors informed his husband, David Furnish, that the performer was “24 hours away from death” and would have died if he hadn’t been treated when he did.
After 11 days in the hospital, John was finally sent home to rejoin his husband and their two kids, Elijah and Zachary. The musician spent the next seven weeks “recuperating” and “learning to walk again.”
John acknowledges that he was “incredibly lucky” to survive his health crisis, but writes that he “didn’t feel terribly lucky at the time” due to the incessant worrying and “wondering if I was going to die.”
“In the hospital, alone at the dead of night, I’d prayed: Please don’t let me die, please let me see my kids again, please give me a little longer,” he says.
However, he shares that the health scare helped him realize he was ready to retire from touring (he’s currently on his Farewell tour) and spend the bulk of his time with his family.
“It was like being shown a different life, a life I realized I loved more than being on the road,” he writes. “Music was the most wonderful thing, but it still didn’t sound as good as Zachary chattering about what had happened at Cubs or football practice.”
John’s official autobiography, Me, will be released in the U.S. on Oct. 15.