X Factor star Freddie Combs dies from kidney failure at 49

Freddie Combs, who is best known for competing on The X Factor, has died. He was 49.

His wife Katrina “Kay” Combs told TMZ, which first reported the news, that her husband’s death on Friday was the result of kidney failure.

Kay tells PEOPLE exclusively that her last few days with Freddie “were hard.”

Before his death, he spent a 10-day stint at their local hospital, and he and Kay “had discussed plans” in order to fulfill the singer’s final wishes, including having his eyes and corneas donated.

“The day before he was passing, I knew that it was coming. I mean, that’s the day I had appointments [with the] palliative doctor and they were going to be giving me some hard news. So I knew that it was going to be rough,” says Kay. “I couldn’t spend the night with him because of the COVID restriction and that type of thing, but I woke up that [next] morning full of so much gratitude.”

“I was chosen and blessed to be his wife, best friend, caregiver [and] partner in ministry for 25 years,” she continues. “A lot of people don’t get that. And then to have so much of our life online, that will forever be there. Who else had their very own singer-comedian-songwriter?”

Freddie previously appeared on the TLC series Ton of Love and Heavily Ever After.

The singer later gained traction on the second season of The X Factor in 2012, when he wowed judges with his impressive rendition of Bette Midler’s hit “Wind Beneath My Wings.” He was eliminated shortly after.

Though he had struggled with his weight his entire life, Freddie had recently been working on improving his health. Post-X Factor, the couple spent a majority of their time traveling and evangelizing, but hunkered down as the COVID-19 pandemic hit since Freddie was immunocompromised due to his ongoing health issues.

“He lost down to 385 lbs. [during that time],” Kay says. “And I can tell you, I have never been more proud of somebody. Ultimately, the battle with the weight and the fluid over the years contributed to kidney damage and then ultimately kidney failure.”

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