Fetterman on Stroke: ‘I Almost Died’

John Fetterman speaks in a recorded message during a primary Election Night event in Pittsburgh on May 17. Photo: Justin Merriman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Pennsylvania’s John Fetterman won the Democratic nomination for the Senate in a landslide, his primary victory declared nearly an hour after the polls closed.

But while his supporters celebrated his win at an Election Night party outside Pittsburgh, the lieutenant governor was in the hospital, recovering from a stroke he’d suffered several days earlier. Since then, he has been resting at home with no word yet as to when he’ll return to the campaign trail. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the campaign has yet to allow reporters to speak to his physicians.

Fetterman underwent a procedure to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator following the stroke and was released days later from Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital on May 22.

On Friday, Fetterman’s cardiologist, Dr. Ramesh Chandra, released a letter saying that he had previously diagnosed the candidate with atrial fibrillation, or an irregular heart rhythm, back in 2017, but that Fetterman ultimately didn’t follow his prescribed regimen of medication and didn’t see any doctor for five years.

Chandra also said he told Fetterman that he has cardiomyopathy in addition to atrial fibrillation, hence the decision to implant the pacemaker.

Despite this, he said that as long as Fetterman takes his medication and lives a healthy lifestyle, then “he should be able to campaign and serve in the U.S. Senate without a problem.”

Fetterman released a statement of his own, confirming what his doctor wrote, saying that his stroke “didn’t come out of nowhere.”

“Like so many others, and so many men in particular, I avoided going to the doctor, even though I knew I didn’t feel well. As a result, I almost died,” Fetterman said. “I want to encourage others to not make the same mistake.”

On his return to campaigning, Fetterman said that his recovery is still ongoing.

“It will take some more time to get back on the campaign trail like I was in the lead-up to the primary. It’s frustrating — all the more so because this is my own fault — but bear with me, I need a little more time,” he said. “I’m not quite back to 100 percent yet, but I’m getting closer every day.”

Though he hasn’t made any in-person appearances, Fetterman has been active on Twitter, commenting on news events and posting prerecorded videos of himself. He’s picked up several new endorsements in recent days from the Service Employees International Union and former representative Gabrielle Giffords, among others.

It’s still not clear which Republican opponent Fetterman will be facing in November to replace retiring Republican senator Pat Toomey, a race critical in determining which party will control the Senate following the midterms. Pennsylvania is currently in the process of a recount between celebrity physician Mehmet Oz and former hedge-fund CEO David McCormick to determine the winner.

Fetterman on Stroke: ‘I Almost Died’