Jeannie Mai said she is "absolutely devastated that my journey on Dancing with the Stars has to end this way"

By Natalie Stone
November 02, 2020 10:10 PM

Jeannie Mai is staying positive as she recovers from emergency surgery.

On Sunday evening, The Real co-host underwent an operation after being diagnosed with epiglottitis, which "is 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.

Unfortunately, the diagnosis forced her to withdraw unexpectedly from competing on season 29 of Dancing with the Stars. 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, where she admitted that she was  "absolutely devastated that my journey on Dancing with the Stars has to end this way."

Jeannie Mai
| Credit: ABC
Jeannie Mai
| Credit: ABC

"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 some alarming news was also disclosed to her in the hospital. "If you had waited one more day, your throat would have closed up," said a medical professional.

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.

Jeannie Mai
| Credit: ABC
Jeannie Mai
| Credit: ABC

On Monday morning, Good Morning America first reported that Mai had been hospitalized because of epiglottitis and was forced to withdraw from season 29.

In a statement to PEOPLE, Mai confirmed the news and said, "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."

"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," she said. "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!"

Mai's pro dancing partner, Brandon Armstrong, said in a video message to GMA, "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."

A rep for the ABC series told PEOPLE in a statement: "Jeannie has inspired us, along with millions of fans, with her energy and dedication. We wish her a full and speedy recovery.  Since Jeannie had to withdraw from the competition, tonight’s show will feature the eight remaining couples and a single elimination. We will still have the relay dances and Tyra will explain how the judging and points work in the show."

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