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'Heartbroken' Jeannie Mai leaves 'DWTS' after throat surgery

Jeannie Mai, a celebrity competitor on "Dancing with

Jeannie Mai, a celebrity competitor on "Dancing with the Stars" season 29, exited the competition after emergency throat surgery for an infection. Credit: ABC / Frank Ockenfels

"The Real" co-host Jeannie Mai, a competitor this season on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars," has had to leave the show to undergo emergency surgery for an infection.

On Monday evening, in a prerecorded package that aired on the show, the 41-year-old Mai revealed that she had successfully undergone surgery for an abscess that had blocked at least 60% of her airway. The infection, she said, had spread to her tonsils and ears.

On Instagram, Mai thanked her surgeon, "Dr. Nasseri," who identified her condition. She added of her fellow "DWTS" competitors: "My thumbs still work [post-surgery] hunnay, so I can spread my 20 votes across these final 8 superstar teams!!!"

In a statement earlier in the day, she had told Newsday of leaving the show: "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."

She added, "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." Mai thanked her ballroom-pro partner Brandon Armstrong "for being so supportive and believing in me," and additionally thanked her fans. "I also I wish everyone else in the competition the best of luck!" she concluded.

"JEANNIE! I'm so sorry this happened to you! You don't deserve it!" declared Armstrong on Instagram. "Your journey on this show was so special so unique and so inspiring! I loved EVERY SINGLE WEEK that we got to go through this together! I hope I helped give you an experience that you'll remember forever! We share a lot of good times, tough times and all the times in between but mainly, a lot of laughs! Mainly you laughing at me but hey I'll take it! [T]hank you for giving me such an amazing season! We will all be praying for a speedy recovery!"

ABC and the "Dancing with the Stars" production company, BBC Studios, issued a statement saying, "Jeannie has inspired us, along with millions of fans, with her energy and dedication. We wish her a full and speedy recovery."

Last week, Mai narrowly avoided elimination on last week's episode of "Dancing with the Stars," now in its 29th season.

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