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Bob Saget spoke about the the death of his sister from scleroderma — and how he would continue to fight the disease "when I’m gone" — in one of his final interviews.
The Full House actor and comedian was interviewed by CBS Mornings's Dr. Jonathan LaPook just weeks before his sudden death — and it aired Friday. Bob got emotional during the Dec. 6 conversation discussing how he watched his sister Gay Saget die from scleroderma, in 1994 at the age of 47, and how it drives his charity work fighting the rare autoimmune disease. During his life, Bob raised $26 million for scleroderma research.
The former America's Funniest Home Videos host said Gay fought fatigue and felt like her skin was on fire — as the disease causes tightening of the skin and inflammation throughout the body. However, she failed to get a proper diagnosis. Doctors "named everything except what it was," Saget said.
After a four-year battle, Gay died and Bob, getting emotional, said he "couldn't bear it. I can't get the images of the end of her life out of my head ever."
"We were all in the room when she let out her last breath," he said. "I don't know how to explain it but it felt like — I'm going to go all woo-woo here — but it felt like the soul going past us. I felt my hair kind of move."
The comedian then made a joke about his hair, noting that "humor is the only way my family survived."
He called his lifetime use of comedy "a defense mechanism" and one that "truly helped me survive." He said comedy "helped keep me mentally alive rather than letting it destroy me."
Of his lifetime of fundraising for scleroderma — tapping famous friends John Stamos, Dave Chappelle, George Lopez, John Mayer and Robin Williams to attend his charity events — Bob said: "I can't watch what happened to my sister happen to more people ... For me, it's an homage to her."
When he was complimented by LaPook for his fundraising efforts, he insisted, "I have a lot to live up to. I feel like to really do [Gay] justice is to really make huge strides in the next decade or two ... My sister should not be dead. That's one of the things that's kept me doing this — will keep me doing this — until I'm gone. I'll do it when I'm gone."
Bob was found dead Sunday in his hotel room in the Ritz-Carlton Orlando. He had been performing shows on his comedy tour, the final one being Saturday night. After he returned to his hotel, he died in sleep. A wellness check was performed by hotel security on Sunday when his wife couldn't get in touch with him. He was pronounced dead on the scene. Authorities have said there were no signs of foul play or drug use. The medical examiner saw no signs of drug use either, with autopsy results pending further testing.
In the wake of Bob's death, his friends have urged donations to the Scleroderma Research Foundation in his name. Bob was a board member for the non-profit since 2003. In honor of Bob, the organization is matching every donation up to $1.5 million via a grant provided by fellow board members, philanthropists and the star's friends.