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AEW's William Regal opens up about past serious health issues, emergency heart surgery

The longtime WWE employee went into detail about his past health issues.
William Regal

New AEW roster member William Regal opened up on Chris Jericho's podcast regarding serious health issues he has had to deal with, including being told he had 24 hours to live in early-2019. 

The 53-year-old was a guest on Talk is Jericho and spoke about having open heart surgery, sepsis in his leg, and other health-related challenges. 

"I was in a hospital for eight weeks. I was given, at one point, 24 hours to live. I had sepsis in my leg. They were going to cut my leg off. This is January 4, 2019," he said.

"Since 1998, I got pericarditis. Pericarditis is an inflammation of the sac around your heart and what it does is scar that sac. So, your heart can beat but that sac can sort of lock down," he said.

Regal detailed a serious neck injury he believes he suffered in 1993 during a match with Ricky Steamboat. The injury went untreated for many years and it eventually required multiple surgeries, including one to fuse four discs in his neck together. With his wrestling career over, he wasn't training as much which led to further heart issues. 

"Because I had stopped wrestling, and because I had slowed down, this sac around my heart locked down. Basically, the scarring locked down and it started to calcify inwards. Slowly and slowly, I was having more and more things [such as] my heart going out of rhythm, and my legs swelling up and it was just building up. I was going from doctor to doctor and getting all these different things," he said.

Regal would eventually need further surgery on his neck after his wound opened up and he began to leak spinal fluid. He then detailed further health problems he suffered after having had surgery to correct that issue. 

"2018 started and the first few months, I was having all this swelling in my legs. I go on a scouting trip to Costa Rica. I get off the plane. I'm feeling a bit dizzy, but not bad. And just so anybody knows, no drinking, no anything. This is all things with my heart," he explained.

He said when he was in the airport, he fell forward down an escalator, shattering his left eye socket. 

"I had three weeks of amnesia after that. I have no idea what happened. I was in a hospital for a week in Costa Rica and I had shattered my eye socket. I had three weeks amnesia and lost 40% vision in my left eye," he explained.

He went through six weeks of treatment and was getting better, but his legs kept swelling up and he was having trouble walking. Then in November, he went in for more tests. 

"They do a scan of my abdomen and fortunately for me, there's a cardiologist in the room and this lady saved my life. She went, 'Hang on a minute. There's something above that that doesn't look right.'"

Since doctors weren't able to scan that area immediately, further scans were ordered a few days later. He later received a call from his cardiologist that the sac around his heart had completely calcified. He was told that if they didn't operate to remove the calcified area, he had less than six months to live. 

"Fortunately, WWE got me a doctor in Atlanta that did this for me. One of the few that can do this," he explained.

Regal spent eight weeks in the hospital after surgery. He insisted on going home for Christmas, however. He was experiencing intense pain and on New Year's Day, he fell out of bed. Regal's wife and son then got him in an ambulance and he was back to the hospital where he later developed sepsis in his leg. 

Doctors called his wife and told her that if they didn't cut off his leg, he would only have 24 hours to live. This was on a Sunday, so it was not his usual doctors caring for him at the time. The wife of one of his usual doctors, herself a doctor, overheard what was happening and informed her husband. He then called into the hospital and stopped them from amputating his leg. 

"He called them and said 'Inject him with this, this, this, and this' and somehow, because they weren't going to do it, that worked and saved my leg," he said.

"Two days before the NXT UK show from Blackpool where WALTER, who is now called Gunther, debuted, I'm in the hospital and something in my brain just went click and I thought, 'I'm going to be okay.' Within a very quick time, I was walking three miles a day and within two months, I was doing 500 squats again."