The Dancing with the Stars contestant was diagnosed with epiglottitis

By Ashley Boucher
November 02, 2020 11:00 PM
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Jeannie Mai has made it out of emergency surgery after being diagnosed with epiglottitis.

Mai, 41, was forced to withdraw from Dancing with the Stars after being diagnosed with the potentially life-threatening condition, she confirmed in a statement to PEOPLE earlier on Monday.

"I would never imagine ever having to write this, but I made it safely out of my emergency surgery," Mai wrote on Instagram, sharing a photo of herself from her hospital bed.

"I will be forever grateful to Dr. Nasseri who identified my potentially life-threatening condition," she continued. "What simply started as a sore throat had unbeknownst to me become a dangerous infection that already closed at least 60% of my airway and resulted in a throat abscess that spread in a matter of 3 days."

While thankful that the condition was caught in time, Mai admitted that she is "devastated" she had to end her time on DWTS early.

"Although I am grateful to be recovering safely, I can't lie... I am devastated by the fact that my journey with #DWTS will end this way 🥺😞," she wrote. "Dancing on this show has been the most exhilarating adventure. I've gained both beautiful friendships and loving supporters."

Jeannie Mai
| Credit: ABC

During Monday night's episode of the ABC reality dance competition series, host Tyra Banks announced that Mai, 41, had recorded a video for DWTS audiences.

"I have some sad news. Jeannie Mai had emergency surgery last night and she's in recovery. She's doing well. However, she's had to withdraw from this competition. And she shared her emotional story from her hospital room. She did that for you. She really wants you to see that, and you're going to be able to see that a bit later. Now, due to Jeannie dropping out, we will not have a double elimination tonight. But one couple will go home," said Banks, 46.

Later in the evening, Mai opened up about the procedure in footage that was recorded in her hospital room, saying, "I found out that I have a throat abscess, where my tonsils and my throat had gotten so infected that it started permeating to the rest of the areas behind my neck and my ears that I had to get emergency surgery, which is why I'm here now."

After the surgery, Mai was told that "everything went great" while a medical professional also admitted that if she had "waited one more day, your throat would have closed up."

Though Mai wasn't able to say goodbye to the show live in the ballroom, the series aired a heartfelt and empowering video package in her honor.

"I'm just so thankful I had the experience on Dancing with the Stars. It was hands down one of the best journeys of my life, so thank you so much and I love you guys," said Mai.

Brandon Armstrong, Jeannie Mai
| Credit: Kelsey McNeal/ABC via Getty Images

In a shoutout to her DWTS partner Brandon Armstrong, Mai wrote in her Instagram caption, "I’m sorry you don't get to make fun of my moves anymore while I share my life gems on how to be a grown up🤭🤪 Love u so much lil bro, and will ALWAYS cherish the memories we made!!!"

Finally, Mai encouraged her fans to vote for the remaining teams still competing for the Mirrorball trophy.

"And more good news? My thumbs still work hunnay, so I can spread my 20 votes across these final 8 superstar teams!!! Please everyone, TONIGHT watch for your fave #DWTS couple killen it in the ballroom cuz #TeamDreamofJeannie, we gotta share our love and VOTE!!!"

RELATED VIDEO: DWTS Contestant Jeannie Mai Jokes Her Dancing Skills Are Limited to 'the Electric Slide'

In a video message on Good Morning America Monday, Armstrong, 26, said, "We are devastated by the news that we're gonna have to cut this season short, but Jeannie's health does come first. Thank you to all the fans that have  helped to get us this far and we are praying for a speedy recovery for Jeannie."

The pro dancer shared a message to his partner on Instagram Monday, mourning the end of their time on DWTS together.

"JEANNIE! I’m so sorry this happened to you! You don’t deserve it! Your journey on this show was so special so unique and so inspiring!" Armstrong wrote in the caption for a snapshot from the show.

"I loved EVERY SINGLE WEEK that we got to go through this together! I hope I helped give you an experience that you’ll remember forever!" he continued. "We share a lot of good times, tough times and all the times in between but mainly, a lot of laughs! Mainly you laughing at me but hey I’ll take it! 😂thank you for giving me such an amazing season! We will all be praying for a speedy recovery! ❤️ #teamdreamofjeannie always! 🙏🏽🔥"

Jeannie Mai and Brandon Armstrong
| Credit: Eric McCandless /ABC via Getty Images

"It saddens me that I will not be able to continue with the competition on DWTS. My doctors discovered a health concern with my throat which requires immediate attention and surgery," Mai said in a statement to PEOPLE earlier on Monday.

GMA first reported that The Real cohost had been diagnosed with epiglottitis, a "potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the epiglottis — a small cartilage 'lid' that covers your windpipe — swells, blocking the flow of air into your lungs," according to Mayo Clinic.

"I am heartbroken that my DWTS journey has to end here. The last several weeks have been an amazing learning experience. I have pushed myself to new limits physically and mentally, and I am so proud of how far we’ve come," Mai's first statement continued. "I can't thank my partner Brandon enough for being so supportive and believing in me. I also want to thank MAI fans who voted every week and I wish everyone else in the competition the best of luck!"

Remaining in the competition is Backstreet Boys' AJ McLean, Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir, rapper Nelly, actress Justina MachadoCatfish host Nev Schulman, Disney Channel star Skai Jackson, and The Bachelorette's Kaitlyn BristoweSelling Sunset's Chrishell Stause was eliminated Monday night.

Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.