Robert Buchel had a long way to go when he arrived on My 600-LB Life, and fans hoping to find encouraging updates about his progress were instead met with tragedy.
The 41-year-old man suffered a heart attack and died during production of the show, bringing a tragic ending to the story TLC shared with viewers on Wednesday.
As Newsweek noted, Robert came to My 600-LB Life unable to take care of himself on a daily basis and relying entirely on his fiance, Kathryn, for help with these tasks. As early clips released by TLC showed, Robert was tired and dismayed at having to place such a heavy burden on her.
“To carry all this weight is physically draining [and] mentally, emotionally taxing,” he told the camera. “It’s not a pain or life I wish on anyone. Because I can’t do anything. I can’t do anything for anyone—especially myself. I am completely dependent upon my fiancé, Kathryn.”
Going into Wednesday’s show, TLC had gone to great lengths not to reveal what happened to Robert Buchel. Many fans noted that the network took the unusual step of not publishing his last name in previews of the episode, making it impossible for viewers to scour the internet for potential updates. If they had, they would have found a tribute that Buchel’s fiance posted after his death from a heart attack in November.
Buchel is now the first participant to die from weight-related ailments during the show’s eight seasons. Viewers had grown accustomed to seeing transformation stories, some stark and others gradual. Even Lisa Fleming, who was featured on the previous week of My 600-LB Life, was able to see significant weight loss even after sparring with the show’s doctor and often appearing unmotivated and reluctant to follow the recommendations.
As Reality Blurb noted, Robert was actually making significant progress after appearing on the show, losing more than 200 pounds in three months. But he also struggled with an addiction to painkillers, and ultimately was sent to rehab before he could complete weight-loss surgery, the report noted.
More information about Robert Buchel and his time on My 600-LB Life can be found on the show’s official page.