Eric Church

Country star Eric Church quietly underwent life-saving emergency surgery last year (17) after discovering he had been suffering from a blood clot caused by a birth defect.

The Record Year singer had no idea he had been living with a condition which caused his top rib bone to get too close to his collarbone, prompting a major vein to be pinched and damaged over time whenever he would raise his arm.

Eric only learned of the defect and the resulting vein issue, known as thoracic outlet syndrome, when he started experiencing a tingling in his left hand towards the end of his Holdin’ My Own Tour in mid-2017, and when his arm eventually became red and swollen, he knew he should seek medical attention.

An ultrasound scan subsequently revealed Eric had a blood clot in his chest, and he was warned he could die if he didn’t undergo surgery immediately.

He was checked into the Intensive Care Unit at Duke University Hospital in Durham, North Carolina, and it was only then that the musician realised how serious his situation was.

“That was really when it hit me,” Eric told Rolling Stone. “To them (doctors), I was going to die.”

The blood clot was successfully removed, but a week later, he was back on the operating table to have his top rib removed.

“Normally, if you’re athletic (and have thoracic outlet syndrome), you’ll start having issues at 21, 22, 23,” said the star, 41. “(Others will) just fall over in the shower.”

The singer made a full recovery with the help of rehab and physical therapy, and he was back on tour months later – with his fans none the wiser.

“It was an interesting summer,” Eric smiled, adding, “I can still play guitar. And I play golf better than ever.”