Gaunt George Michael says "fortunate to be here"

Fri Dec 23, 2011 4:34pm EST
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By Michelle Martin

LONDON (Reuters) - A gaunt and breathless George Michael tearfully thanked his doctors and fans on Friday for seeing him through a "touch and go" battle with pneumonia.

A thin and visibly weak Michael told reporters outside his home in north London that he wasn't supposed to speak for very long and was still recovering from a tracheotomy.

"I got streptococca-something...It's a form of pneumonia and they spent three weeks keeping me alive basically," Michael said of the doctors in the Austrian hospital where the singer has been receiving treatment since he fell ill last month.

"I'm very weak but I feel amazing," he said as he stood in front of a lit-up Christmas tree.

The 48-year-old former Wham! frontman, who went on to pursue a successful solo career, was taken ill in the Austrian capital and diagnosed with severe pneumonia last month.

"It was basically by far the worst month of my life but I'm incredibly, incredibly fortunate to be here," he said. "If I wasn't spiritual enough before the last four, five weeks then I certainly am now."

British press reports said that members of his family had travelled to be by his side at Vienna General Hospital, but Michael said he had played down reports of his illness during his hospital stay for the sake of his fans.

"I didn't want to worry my fans too much and I'm really sorry that I couldn't contact them in any way before now but I was really not in any state to," he said.   Continued...