Al Roker returned to Today on Friday (Jan. 6) after a two-month absence due to a health crisis that put the 68-year-old weatherman in the hospital. The entire Today family – Savannah Guthrie, Craig Melvin, Hoda Kotb, and more – were happy to welcome Al back. He was joined by his wife, Deborah Roberts, for his return, and she sat alongside him as his co-hosts got an update about his health journey.
Checking in with #AlRoker and @DebRobertsABC about Al’s health journey and recovery. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/4Mo6O0g4RF
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) January 6, 2023
“My heart is just bursting,” Al gushed. “I’m so thrilled to see all of you and the crew and everybody. Right now, I’m running on adrenaline. I’m just thrilled to be here.” Deborah then weighed in on how doctors literally saved Al’s life when he was in the hospital back in November. “It’s not lost on us that this is a major, major thing for Al to be here. He is a living, breathing miracle. He really is. I’m not overstating it, I don’t think. Al was a very, very, very sick man and I don’t think most people know that,” Deborah confirmed.
She also praised his doctors for leading a team that figured out what was happening to Al. “He was a medical mystery for weeks,” Deborah revealed. “It was the most tumultuous, frightening journey we have ever been on.” Deborah revealed that Al went through a “major, major surgery” during his hospitalization. “We were just on pins and needles every day,” she admitted. She also fought back tears while opening up about Al’s “will” and “drive” throughout his illness.
Al then went on to explain his illness more specifically. “I had two complicated things,” he said. “I had blood clots that they think came up after I had COVID in September. I had this internal bleeding going on, I lost half my blood. They were trying to figure out where it was. They went in, they did surgery, and it ended up two bleeding ulcers. They had to resection the colon, take out my gall bladder. I went in for one operation and I got four for free!”
Savannah, 51, broke the news of Al’s return on Jan. 3. “We have some great news to share this morning: Al is coming back to the show. “Everyone’s like, ‘When when?’ Well, we have our date,” added Hoda, 58. “He’ll be here Friday. He’ll be right here in Studio 1A. This is his place. He’ll be in his seat, right where he belongs. I cannot wait for that.”
Roker’s last appearance on Today was during the Nov. 4 broadcast. He was hospitalized in mid-November 202s due to blood clotting. “I was admitted to the hospital with a blood clot in my leg which sent some clots into my lungs,” Al posted to Instagram on Nov. 18. “After some medical whack-a-mole, I am so fortunate to be getting terrific medical care and on the way to recovery.” However, a week later, he was hospitalized again. The health crisis resulted in Al missing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for the first time in 27 years and the annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
“For the past 27 parades, at this moment, Savannah, we would turn to Al Roker, who is our TODAY Show colleague and our best pal,” Hoda said during the November broadcast. “But as a lot of you have heard, Al is recovering, and he’s recovering very well from a recent medical issue. We just want to say, we love you, Al. Wonder if you’re watching, but we wish you a full recovery.”
Al appeared on the Dec. 12 episode of Today, speaking from his home while giving an update on his health. “It’s been a tough slog, I’m not gonna deny this,” he said. “It’s been the hardest one yet, and you know I’ve had my share of surgeries.” Al said he was undergoing “physical therapy every day” to regain the muscle mass he lost during his four week-stay at the hospital. “But I feel good. I feel strong,” he said. “Every day, I feel a little bit better. I made dinner last night. There’s gonna be a little bit of a slog, but a lot of people have to deal with a lot more with fewer resources.”
Al Roker joined Today in 1990 as a substitute weatherman for Willard Scott and other show hosts. When Willard announced his semi-retirement in 1996, Roker took over as the regular weather presenter.
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