A participant on the TLC reality series "My 600-Lb. Life" became the first cast member to die during filming in an episode that aired Wednesday.
Robert Buchel's life-long battle with obesity was chronicled for season six of the hit series, and viewers watched in heartbreaking detail how Buchel steadily improved by shedding more than 200 pounds before ultimately suffering a fatal heart attack in November at age 41.
"TLC was deeply saddened by the loss of Robert," the network said in a 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."
Accompanying Buchel for much of his journey was fiancée Kathryn Lemanski, who moved with her husband-to-be to Texas from New Jersey to aid as he continued his treatment.
Buchel — whose weight ballooned to 842 pounds thanks to a life-long food addiction — made quick progress at first, shedding 217 pounds at a Houston hospital in preparation for lymphedema removal surgery.
Image courtesy of GoFundMe/Robert Buchel Memorial Fund
Once Buchel had his surgery, however, his previously unacknowledged addiction to painkillers kicked in, and he grew depressed and struggled to make progress as his body deteriorated. In a desperate bid at scoring more painkillers, he tore his surgery stitches.
Buchel was forced to leave his rehabilitation center for a long-term care facility after it became clear he was no longer trying to stay active, and shortly after, suffered a heart attack and died.
His final moment on screen ended on a hopeful note, as Buchel expressed interest in making progress for the sake of his fiancée.
But not long after, Lemanski appeared on screen to recount their final night together, saying that Buchel told her he didn't feel well and didn't think he'd make it through the night.
"He told me, 'I don't think I'll make it through the night. I love you and I always will,'" she said. "I lost my best friend and the person I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with."
A GoFundMe was launched in support of Lemanski shortly after Buchel's death in order to help her pay off debts she'd accumulated helping care for him.
Buchel was the first participant of the series to die during filming, though season one's Henry Foots died in 2013 of an illness unrelated to his weight loss surgery.
Notable deaths in 2017
Notable deaths in 2017
Clare Hollingworth, a veteran war correspondent widely known for breaking the news that WWII had started, died on January 10. She was 105 years old.
(Photo credit should read MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images)
Eugene A. Cernan, the last NASA astronaut to walk on the moon, died at the age of 82 on January 16.
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Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, a professional wrestler, died on January 15. He was 73.
(Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)
John Hurt, known for his role in the Harry Potter series and Elephant Man, died on January 25 at the age of 77. The English actor was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015.
(Photo via REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett)
Legendary actress Mary Tyler Moore died on January 25. She was 80.
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Actor Miguel Ferrer, known for his roles in 'NCIS: Los Angeles' and 'Crossing Jordan' died from cancer in January. He was 61.
(Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
Brenda Barnes, the former Sara Lee Corp. and Pepsi CEO, died in January from complications of a stroke. She was 63.
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Tilikum, the killer whale featured in the documentary 'Blackfish' died in January.
(Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
Michael Chamberlain was the father of Australian baby Azaria Chamberlain, who was snatched by a dingo at Uluru in 1980 died in January at the age of 72. The 32-year legal mystery over the baby's death in Australia's outback came to an end in 2012 when a coroner found a dingo was responsible for the killing.
William Peter Blatty, author of 'The Exorcist,' died in January. He was 89 years old.
(Photo by Mark Von Holden/WireImage)
Norma McCorvey, who used the pseudonym "Jane Roe" in the landmark Supreme Court Case Roe v. Wade, died on February 18. She was 69 years old.
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Judge Joseph Wapner, known for his tenure on the reality TV show "The People's Court," died at the age of 97 on February 28.
(Photo by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images)
Actor Bill Paxton, known for his roles in 'Titanic,' 'Aliens' and 'Twister,' died after experiencing complications from surgery in February. He was 61.
(Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
Physicist Mildred Dresselhaus, known as the 'Queen of Carbon' and pioneer of nanoscience, died in February. She was 86.
(Larry Downing / Reuters)
Legendary professional wrestler George 'The Animal' Steele died in February. He was 79.
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Omar Abdel-Rahman, the extremist known as 'the blind sheik' who was convicted in 1993 World Trade Center bombing died in a North Carolina prison in February. He was 78.
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Billionaire philanthropist David Rockefeller died in his sleep on MArch 20 at the age of 101.
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Jimmy Breslin, a New York Daily News columnist and best-selling author, died on March 19. He was 88 years old.
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Martin McGuinness, former Irish Republican Army leader and Sinn Fein poitician, died on March 21. He was 66 years old.
(Photo by Mark Winter/Corbis via Getty Images)
Emma Morano, who at 117 was believed to be the world's oldest person and the only one left who had touched three centuries died in April.
OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez reportedly committed suicide in the jail cell where he was serving a life sentence for murder in April. He was 27.
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Legendary insult comedian Don Rickles died on April 6. He was 90-years-old.
(Photo by Harry Langdon/Getty Images)
Erin Moran, who is known for her role in TV sitcom "Happy Days," died in April at the age of 56 after a battle with cancer.
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American bobsledder Steven Holcomb unexpectedly died on May 6. He was just 37 years old when he was found dead in bed at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid. Holcomb had sleeping pills and alcohol in his system when he died.
(Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Roger Ailes, who founded FOX News, died at the age of 77 on May 18.
(Photo by Wesley Mann/FOX News via Getty Images)
Jim Bunning, a former professional baseball pitcher and U.S. senator for Kentucky, died on May 26. He was 85.
(Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Gregg Allman, founding member of the Allman Brother Band, died on May 27. He was 69 years old.
(Photo via REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian)
Frank Deford, a sports journalist and novelist, died on May 28 at the age of 78. He was known for his longtime tenure at Sports Illustrated.
(Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage)
Former Auschwitz guard Reinhold Hanning, died in May before going to prison after being convicted of being an accessory to murder of at least 170,000 people. He was 95.
(BERND THISSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell committed suicide in his Detroit hotel room in May. He was 52 years old.
(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Adviser under President Jimmy Carter, died in May. The father of 'Morning Joe' co-host Mika Brzezinski was 89.
(Photo by Carol T. Powers/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who was imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months, died less than a week after being returned home in coma in June. He was 22.
Prodigy, who made up one half of Mobb Deep, died in June. He was 42.
(Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
Author of the Paddington Bear books, Michael Bond, died at his home from a short illness in June. He was 91.
(Photo by Avery Cunliffe/Photoshot/Getty Images)
James Hardy's body was pulled from an Indiana river in June. The coroner later ruled his death a suicide, he was 31 years old.
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Fashion designer Carla Fendi, who helped transform her parents' small leather workshop into a luxury fashion brand died on June 19 at the age of 79.
(FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
Nelsan Ellis, who starred in the HBO series True Blood, died on July 8 from alcohol withdrawal after years of struggling with substance abuse. He was 39 years old.
(Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
Lead singer of rock band Linkin Park Chester Bennington was found dead on July 20 from an apparent suicide. He was 41 years old.
Margaret Bergmann Lambert, the German Jewish high jumper who was thrown out of the 1936 Berlin Olympics by the Nazis because of her heritage died in July. She was 103 year's old.
(Photo by Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
John Heard, known for his role as the father in the Home Alone films, died on July 21. Some reports say he was 71-years-old, however, others have his age listed as 72.
(Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
Critically ill baby Charlie Gard, the infant at the center of legal battle over further treatment died in July. He was 11 months old.
Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who won the Nobel Peace Prize while jailed, died of multiple organ failure in July at the age of 61.
June Foray died on July 26 at the age of 99. The iconic voice actress is known for voicing Rocky and Natash in the Rocky and Bulwinkle Show, as well as Cindy Lou Who in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."
(Photo by Brian Vander Brug/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Bob Wolff, the pioneering television voice of the Washington Senators, died in July at the age of 96.
(Photo by Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)
Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright and Oscar-nominated actor Sam Shepard died on July 27 at the age of 73.
(Photo by Walter McBride/Getty Images)
Dick Gregory, comedian and civil rights activist, died on August 19 at the age of 84.
(Photo by Rabbani and Solimene Photography/Getty Images)
Haruo Nakajima, who dressed in a rubber suit to play the original Godzilla, died from pneumonia in August. He was 88 years old.
(KYODO Kyodo / Reuters)
Jeannie Rousseau de Clarens, one of the remarkable spies of World War II, died on August 23 in France at the age of 98. https://t.co/uG1zzaFB2J
Comedian Jerry Lewis died on August 20. He was 91 years old.
(Photo by Lori Shepler/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Swedish journalist Kim Wall died while on board Danish inventor Peter Madsen's submarine for an interview in August. She was 30 years old.
(TT News Agency/Reuters)
Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner died in his home at the Playboy Mansion of natural causes on September 27. He was 91 years old.
Gay rights pioneer Edith Windsor, whose landmark legal case paved the way for gay marriage died in September. She was 88.
(Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
Boxing legend Jake La Motta, who was played by Robert De Niro in the movie 'Raging Bull,' died at the age of 95 on September 19.
(Bettmann via Getty Images)
Liliane Bettencourt, heiress to the L'Oreal fortune and world's richest woman, died at her home in September. She was 94.
Troy Gentry of the country duo Montgomery Gentry died in a helicopter crash in September. He was 50 years old.
(Photo by Matthew Eisman/WireImage)
Watertown, Massachusetts resident David Henneberry, the man who found Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hiding in his boat in his backyard, died in September. He was 70 years old.
(Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Red' Miller, the former Denver Broncos coach who led them to their first ever Super Bowl, died in September at the age of 89.
(Denver Post via Getty Images)
Michelle Rounds, Rosie O'Donnell's ex-wife reportedly committed suicide in September. She was 46.
(Photo by Mike Pont/FilmMagic)
58 people were killed in October when a gunman opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas. They ranged in age from 20 to 67.
Charleston Hartfield, Brett Schwanbeck, Austin Meyer, Pati Mestas, Nicol Kimura, Christopher Hazencomb, Andrea Castilla, Carly Kreibaum, Steve Berger, Brian Fraser, Derrick "Bo" Taylor, Denise Cohen, Christiana Duarte, Candice Bowers, Lisa Patterson, Rocio Guillen Rocha, Jordyn Rivera, Austin Davis, Laura Shipp, Keri Galvan, Tara Roe Smith, Calla Medig, Carrie Parsons, Cameron Robinson, Michelle Vo, Brennan Stewart, Erick Silva, Dorene Anderson, Heather Alvarado, Hannah Ahlers, Stacee Etcheber, Christopher Roybal, Victor Link, Melissa Ramirez, Kelsey Meadows, Dana Gardner, Bill Wolfe, Jr., Carrie Barnette, Thomas Day Jr., Jennifer Parks, Kurt Von Tillow, Jack Beaton, Denise Burditus, Sandy Casey, Angie Gomez, Jennifer Irvine, Jessica Klymchuk, Rhonda LeRocque, Jordan McIldoon, Sonny Melton, Adrian Murfitt, Rachel Parker, John Phippen, Quintin Robbins, Lisa Romero-Muniz, Bailey Schweitzer, Susan Smith, and Neysa Tonks
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Tom Petty, the famed and beloved rocker behind hits like 'American Girl' and 'Free Fallin,' died in October following a cardiac arrest. He was 66.
Legendary New Orleans musician Fats Domino died of natural causes at the age of 89 at the end of October.
(Photo by James Crump/WireImage)
Jalal Talabani, the Kurdish leader who became Iraq's first president after the ouster of Saddam Hussein died in October. He was 83 years old.
(AFP via Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns Hall of Famer Connie Hawkins died in October at the age of 75.
(Photo by Wen Roberts/NBAE via Getty Images)
Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed in October when a powerful bomb blew up her car. She as 53.
REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
U.S. Army Special Forces Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson, U.S. Special Forces Sgt. Bryan Black, U.S. Special Forces Sgt. Dustin Wright and U.S. Special Forces Sgt. La David Johnson were killed in an ambush in Niger, West Africa on October 4th.
(Courtesy U.S. Army Special Operations Command/Handout via REUTERS)
Former MLB pitcher Roy Halladay died after his plane crashed in the Gulf of Mexico in November. He was 40 years old.
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
A man killed 26 people, including an unborn child, when he opened fire at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in Texas in November.
Robert Scott Marshall, Karen Sue Marshall, Keith Allen Braden, Tara E. McNulty, Annabelle Renae Pomeroy, Peggy Lynn Warden, Dennis Neil Johnson, Sr., Sara Johns Johnson, Lula Woicinski White, Joann Lookingbill Ward, Brooke Bryanne Ward, Robert Michael Corrigan, Shani Louise Corrigan, Therese Sagan Rodriguez, Ricardo Cardona Rodriguez, Haley Krueger, Emily Garcia, Emily Rose Hill, Gregory Lynn Hill, Megan Gail Hill, Marc Daniel Holcombe, Noah Holcombe, Karla Plain Holcombe, John Bryan Holcombe, Crystal Marie Holcombe, and her unborn baby.
Charles Manson, the cult leader who sent followers known as the "Manson Family" out to commit gruesome murders, died of natural causes at the age of 83 on November 19.
(Handout . / Reuters)
Renowned Russian baritone Dmitry Hvorostovski died from complications from brain cancer in November. He was 55.
(Photo by Vyacheslav Prokofyev\TASS via Getty Images)
Former NFL wide receiver Terry Glenn was killed in a car crash in Texas on November 20 at the age of 43.
(Photo by Getty Images)
Tennis star Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic, a Wimbledon champion and 16-time grand slam winner, died in November after a long battle with cancer. She was 49.
(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
David Cassidy, 'The Partridge Family' star and '70s heartthrob died November 21 after being placed in a medically induced coma. He was 67 years old.
(Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
Bobby Doerr, Boston Red Sox legend and Hall of Fame second baseman died in November. The 99-year-old was the oldest living major league baseball player.
(Photo by Sporting News/Sporting News via Getty Images)
American gospel singer and actress Della Reese, from the television show 'Touched by an Angel' died at her California home in November at the age of 86.
(Photo by Cliff Lipson/CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)
Russian extreme sport star Valery Rozov died while attempting a massive base jump from a mountain in the Himalayas in November. He was 52.
(Photo by Thomas Senf/Euro-Newsroom via Getty Images)
Former Chicago Bears defensive end John Thierry died in November. One of his former teammates said the 46-year-old suffered a heart attack.
(Tom Hauck /Allsport)
Popular New York gossip columnist writer Liz Smith died in November. She was 94 years old.
'(Photo by Jay West/WireImage)
Jim Nabors, widely adored for playing Gomer Pyle on "The Andy Griffith Show," passed away in November 2017 at age 87.
(Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Anthony Senerchia, the activist who helped inspire the 'Ice Bucket Challenge' phenomenon in 2014, died after a long battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease on November 25. He was 46.
(Photo via Anthony Senerchia Jr. ALS Charitable Foundation)
Lowell Hawthorne, the founder of the Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery chain died in December. New York's medical examiner said the 57-year-old shot himself in the head.
(Photo By: David Handschuh/NY Daily News via Getty Images)
John Anderson, a former Republican congressman who ran an independent campaign against Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter in the 1980 presidential election, died in December. He was 95.
(Photo by Chuck Fishman/Getty Images)
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, died on December 12, hours after appearing at a public event. The city's first Asian-American mayor was 65 years old.
(David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Erica Garner died of a heart attack. She was the daughter of Eric Garner, who died in July 2014 when police subdued him with a chokehold under suspicion of selling loose cigarettes. She was 27.
(Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Detective novelist Sue Grafton was best known for her "alphabet series," which included titles like "'A' Is For Alibi." She was 77.