The Ferris Bueller's Day Off star said that his doctors were saying that he wasn’t "going to make it" as his kidneys shut down — but he managed to fully recover

alan ruck
Alan Ruck
| Credit: Theo Wargo/Getty

Alan Ruck is enjoying life these days as one of the stars of the hit show Succession, but he very nearly didn't make it past his 45th birthday thanks to a "ferocious" blood infection.

Ruck, now 65, nearly died in 2001 after he contracted a mysterious blood infection. At the time, the actor was starring on the ABC sitcom Spin City and got sick during a flight to New York with his costar Barry Bostwick.

"They still don't know how it happened, but I got blood poisoning," Ruck said on WTF Podcast with Marc Maron. "I got a streptococcal type g infection in my blood. And all I knew is we were filming like the last show before Christmas and I felt like I was going to die. I just had the worst headache of my life. My whole body hurt. I didn't know what was going on."

As he left the airport in a car, Ruck had a fever and chills: "I was a mess."

"Delirious," the Ferris Bueller's Day Off star didn't realize that the driver had dropped him off at the apartment next door instead of his own.

"I just felt like hell, so I just laid down in the lobby," he said. "And people were walking over me, just like, 'Oh, drunk.' "

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Alan Ruck, right, on "Spin City"
| Credit: Bill Foley/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty

Ruck eventually managed to walk over to his building, where his ex-wife, Claudia Stefany, also assumed that he was drunk.

"I just collapsed and she called 911," he said. "The next thing I know, I hear — that was like three days before Christmas — the next thing I know, people are going, '5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Happy New Year!' "

Ruck "was out for like nine days" in the hospital, and lost 35 lbs.

"My kidneys had stopped working," he said. "I got this ferocious infection in my bloodstream."

Doctors were unsure if Ruck was going to survive after his kidneys shut down and the infection "shot little pieces of crap up into my brain," but amazingly, he pulled through.

"My liver, for like a minute, was like, 'Is the liver going to go?' because it would've been curtains. So, for two days, they were like, 'He's not going to make it' and then, after two days, I was hanging in there and they were like, 'OK, it looks like he's going to pull through, but he's not going to be right upstairs.' And then I started to regain some clarity and I wasn't any dumber than I was before when I got sick."

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Ruck's doctors also thought that he may need to be on dialysis for the rest of his life to keep his kidneys going, but they fully recovered.

"I'm lucky. I don't know why," he said. "To this day they don't know how I got it."