Shockwaves went through the Grey's Anatomy community Friday when it was announced that original cast member Justin Chambers was departing the show after 15 and a half seasons. Things got even worse when it was revealed his last episode as Dr. Alex Karev had already aired, in November of last year. Chambers' co-star Ellen Pompeo is the first cast member to speak out about the news.

Responding to a Vanity Fair tweet about the news, Pompeo quote-tweeted the outlet's "#GreysAnatomy is about to feel one of its biggest losses yet" message and said, "Truer words have never been spoken."

Chambers was absent from the series' fall finale, as it was said his character was visiting his mother. It still remains to be seen how his continued absence will be addressed in the series — especially in terms of Karev's marriage to Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington).

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"There's no good time to say goodbye to a show and character that's defined so much of my life for the past 15 years," Chambers said in a statement regarding his exit. "For some time now, however, I have hoped to diversify my acting roles and career choices. And, as I turn 50 and am blessed with my remarkable, supportive wife and five wonderful children, now is that time."

Grey's Anatomy returns Thursday, Jan. 23 at 9/8c on ABC.

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Ellen Pompeo, <em>Grey's Anatomy</em>Ellen Pompeo, Grey's Anatomy