‘My 600-Lb. Life’ star Robert Buchel dies during filming

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.

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Notable deaths in 2017

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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.

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Swedish journalist Kim Wall died while on board Danish inventor Peter Madsen's submarine for an interview in August. She was 30 years old.

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Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner died in his home at the Playboy Mansion of natural causes on September 27. He was 91 years old.

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Gay rights pioneer Edith Windsor, whose landmark legal case paved the way for gay marriage died in September. She was 88.

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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. 

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Troy Gentry of the country duo Montgomery Gentry died in a helicopter crash in September. He was 50 years old.

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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.

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Robert ' Red' Miller, the former Denver Broncos coach who led them to their first ever Super Bowl, died in September at the age of 89.

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Michelle Rounds, Rosie O'Donnell's ex-wife reportedly committed suicide in September. She was 46.

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(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.

(REUTERS/Jeff Haynes)

Legendary New Orleans musician Fats Domino died of natural causes at the age of 89 at the end of October.

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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.

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Phoenix Suns Hall of Famer Connie Hawkins died in October at the age of 75. 

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Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed in October when a powerful bomb blew up her car. She as 53.

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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.

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Former MLB pitcher Roy Halladay died after his plane crashed in the Gulf of Mexico in November. He was 40 years old.

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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. 

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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.

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Renowned Russian baritone Dmitry Hvorostovski died from complications from brain cancer in November. He was 55.

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Former NFL wide receiver Terry Glenn was killed in a car crash in Texas on November 20 at the age of 43.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.  

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Russian extreme sport star Valery Rozov died while attempting a massive base jump from a mountain in the Himalayas in November. He was 52.

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Former Chicago Bears defensive end John Thierry died in November. One of his former teammates said the 46-year-old suffered a heart attack.

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Popular New York gossip columnist writer Liz Smith died in November. She was 94 years old.

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Jim Nabors, widely adored for playing Gomer Pyle on "The Andy Griffith Show," passed away in November 2017 at age 87.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Detective novelist Sue Grafton was best known for her "alphabet series," which included titles like "'A' Is For Alibi." She was 77.

(Photo: Chris So/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

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