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A 'My 600-lb Life' participant dies while filming his fight to lose weight

Robert Buchel died in November while filming episodes for the TLC show "My 600-lb Life." MUST CREDIT: TLC

Each morning when Robert Buchel woke up, he said he felt "blessed and shocked at the same time" to be alive.

Buchel, who had weighed 842 pounds, had starred on the TLC show "My 600-lb Life," documenting his fight for a healthier life. But following an episode Wednesday about his struggle, news spread that he died late last year while filming episodes for the show.

Buchel, a 41-year-old from Forked River, New Jersey, died Nov. 15 after a heart attack - and before completing his weight-loss surgery, a family member confirmed Friday to The Washington Post.

Leading up to his death, Buchel had said on the show that carrying the weight had been painful and exhausting.

"I feel sometimes I can't take or live this life one more minute," Buchel said in a trailer for "My 600-lb Life."

"To carry all this weight is physically draining - mentally, emotionally taxing," he added. "It's not a pain or life I wish on anyone, because I can't do anything. I can't do anything for anyone - especially myself."

TLC said Buchel and his fiancee, Kathryn Lemanski, had moved from New Jersey to Houston so Buchel could receive treatment from well-known bariatric surgeon Younan Nowzaradan.

Following the episode about Buchel, TLC announced in a statement Thursday that he had "sadly passed away."

"TLC was deeply saddened by the loss of Robert," according to the statement. "We are grateful to his family who were gracious enough to let us continue to share his brave story with our viewers. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this difficult time."

Nowzaradan could not immediately be reached for comment by The Post.

Buchel's fiancee said on Facebook in November she had lost "the love of my life, my best friend, my closest confidant."

"I wish I could say that my heart was broken or even shattered, but in reality, it is just gone," Lemanski wrote two days after his death. "My heart died along with him. Our future together died along with him. Next year we were going to be getting married in Walt Disney World and have our own Disney Fairytale Wedding. We were going to start a family. We were going to grow old together. Everything we were ever going to be can now never be."

Lemanski urged others to "take lessons from him."

"Every morning he would tell me or text me 'good morning angel,'" she wrote. "Every phone call ended with 'I love you.' Every night he would text me or tell me 'Goodnight my love.' In fact, the night before he passed he told me 'If I don't wake up tomorrow please know that I have always loved you.'

"Tell that person you love that you love them. The only consolation I have right now is that we were together and that his last words of peace to me were how he felt about me and how I felt about him."

Lemanski did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Post.

The details surrounding Buchel's death are unclear, but Lemanski said doctors and nurses tried for nearly three hours to save him.

According to the Wrap:

"Buchel, who weighed as much as 842 pounds, had lost 217 pounds at a Houston hospital in preparation for lymphedema removal surgery. After the surgery, a previously unacknowledged addiction to pain killers led to depression. Buchel stopped exercising and went into cardiac arrest."

The Post was not able to verify those claims.

Obesity is major problem in the United States, with more than a third of adults battling the issue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In many cases, it can increase a person's risk of serious health issues, including high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, according to the Mayo Clinic.

In Wednesday's episode of "My 600-lb Life," Lemanski remembered the night before her fiance died, according to the Wrap.

"He told me, 'I don't think I'll make it through the night. I love you and I always will,'" she said, according to the entertainment news site. "I lost my best friend and the person I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with."

Author information: Lindsey Bever is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post, covering national news with an emphasis on health.

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