Entertainment TV 'X Factor' Star Freddie Combs Dies at 49: 'I Have Never Been More Proud of Somebody,' Says Wife Kay The 49-year-old died from kidney failure last Friday By Dory Jackson Dory Jackson Instagram Twitter Website Dory Jackson is an Associate Editor for PEOPLE's digital TV team. While at the brand, she's had the opportunity to interview a long list of celebrities, from Kate Hudson to Pierce Brosnan to Billy Porter. She also recaps popular TV shows like The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Vanderpump Rules.The New York-based Maryland native graduated from Randolph-Macon College in May 2016 with a focus in Communication Studies and Journalism. She came to PEOPLE in March 2021 after working at a number of major news companies, including Newsweek and Us Weekly. She also previously co-hosted a podcast called "Idol Nation." People Editorial Guidelines Published on September 16, 2021 06:37 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: FOX Image Collection via Getty Freddie Combs, who is best known for competing on The X Factor, has died. He was 49. His wife Katrina "Kay" Combs told TMZ, which first reported the news, that her husband's death on Friday was the result of kidney failure. Kay tells PEOPLE exclusively that her last few days with Freddie "were hard." Before his death, he spent a 10-day stint at their local hospital, and he and Kay "had discussed plans" in order to fulfill the singer's final wishes, including having his eyes and corneas donated. "The day before he was passing, I knew that it was coming. I mean, that's the day I had appointments [with the] palliative doctor and they were going to be giving me some hard news. So I knew that it was going to be rough," says Kay. "I couldn't spend the night with him because of the COVID restriction and that type of thing, but I woke up that [next] morning full of so much gratitude." Celebrities Who've Died in 2021 "I was chosen and blessed to be his wife, best friend, caregiver [and] partner in ministry for 25 years," she continues. "A lot of people don't get that. And then to have so much of our life online, that will forever be there. Who else had their very own singer-comedian-songwriter?" Freddie previously appeared on the TLC series Ton of Love and Heavily Ever After. The singer later gained traction on the second season of The X Factor in 2012, when he wowed judges with his impressive rendition of Bette Midler's hit "Wind Beneath My Wings." He was eliminated shortly after. Though he had struggled with his weight his entire life, Freddie had recently been working on improving his health. Post-X Factor, the couple spent a majority of their time traveling and evangelizing, but hunkered down as the COVID-19 pandemic hit since Freddie was immunocompromised due to his ongoing health issues. "He lost down to 385 lbs. [during that time]," Kay says. "And I can tell you, I have never been more proud of somebody. Ultimately, the battle with the weight and the fluid over the years contributed to kidney damage and then ultimately kidney failure." Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. Kay says Freddie loved his fans, and he made them "feel like you were his best friend and what you were saying really meant something." "He was the type of person where it didn't matter where we were, we still would get recognized for being on X Factor. We had done a couple shows with TLC before X Factor, so folks knew that he was losing weight," she says. "And then when they saw him and was like, 'Oh, my goodness. You look so good,' he would talk to them like they were the only person in the world for those few minutes." Celebs Who've Lost Weight in Quarantine For Freddie, bringing joy to others was "all he wanted" in life. "I can't tell you the number of times he said, 'When I come to the end of my life, I want to be used up. I don't want to not touch people. I want every bit of my energy to have gone to touching somebody's life,'" Kay adds. A GoFundMe has been created to help cover Freddie's medical costs and his upcoming memorial at The Pentecostals of Cocoa in Cocoa, Florida, as well as future expenses.