'Dancing With the Stars' celebrity Jeannie Mai hospitalized, forced to leave show

Jeannie Mai wrote, "I am heartbroken that my 'DWTS' journey has to end here."

November 2, 2020, 8:20 AM

Jeannie Mai's "Dancing With the Stars" journey is ending early.

The TV host was hospitalized after being diagnosed with epiglottitis, a potentially life threatening inflammatory condition that can cause swelling and block airflow to the lungs, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Mai confirmed she has to leave "DWTS" because of the diagnosis.

"My doctors discovered a health concern with my throat which requires immediate attention and surgery," she told "Good Morning America" in an exclusive statement. "I am heartbroken that my DWTS journey has to end here."

"I have pushed myself to new limits physically and mentally, and I am so proud of how far we’ve come," she added.

Mai competed with pro dancer Brandon Armstrong on the show.

"We are devastated by the news that we're going to have to cut this season short, but Jeannie's health does come first," Armstrong said. "Thank you to all the fans that have helped get us this far and we are praying for a speedy recovery from Jeannie."

The pair narrowly escaped elimination in last week's episode, with judge Carrie Ann Inaba casting the tie-breaking vote in favor of keeping Mai in the competition.

"Cheer" coach Monica Aldama and her dance partner Val Chmerkovskiy were sent home by the judges instead.

This week's "DWTS" was originally scheduled to be a double elimination round, with two contestants sent home.

Now, just one contestant will be sent home this week in light of Mai having to leave the show.

"Jeannie has inspired us, along with millions of fans, with her energy and dedication. We wish her a full and speedy recovery," "DWTS" said in a statement. "Since Jeannie had to withdraw from the competition, tonight’s show will feature the eight remaining couples and a single elimination."

Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News chief medical correspondent, applauded Mai for bringing awareness to epiglottitis by going public with her diagnosis.

"It is a true, life-threatening medical emergency," Ashton said Monday on "GMA." "The majority of [epiglottitis] is caused by a severe bacterial infection. Luckily, it is uncommon."

Epiglottitis can be diagnosed by what Ashton referred to as "the four D's": Difficulty swallowing, difficulty speaking, drooling and then distress.

"If these signs or symptoms are present, this is [call] 911, get to the emergency room and, in some cases, an emergency surgical procedure to provide an alternate airway is required," said Ashton, explaining that epiglottitis can cut off air supply.