News anchor Leon Harris, a beloved fixture on Washington ABC affiliate WJLA-TV, has recovered from a severe medical condition that nearly killed him. In fact, Harris says that he died twice while under care, making his triumphant return to the anchor’s desk tonight even more remarkable.
As reported by Yahoo! News, Harris, 52, appeared on Good Morning America earlier today to share details about his health scare and how it nearly took his life. A 20-year veteran, Harris says after doubling over from severe abdominal pain on Aug. 1, it was revealed that he suffered from acute necrotizing pancreatitis. Doctors at Baltimore’s John’s Hopkins Hospital made the discovery after he was airlifted to the facility.
It was worse than Mike Tyson punching me,” says Harris. “It was the worst pain I think I’ve ever felt in my life.”
Harris’ kidneys were failing him and his lungs were filling with fluid. For nine days, Harris needed the assistance of a ventilator to breathe and suffered so much, he felt himself losing the will to live and even told his wife, Dawn, and their two children to make preparations.
Watch Leon Harris talk about his experience here:
“On two different days I died,” he said. “I zeroed out and they revived me. I got sick and tired of trying to breathe. It was like trying to snorkel across a lake breathing through a cocktail straw.”
But what happened next was truly a miracle.
“And I closed my eyes and I happened to see Dawn’s face. And I said, ‘I can’t quit on her. If I quit on her, I’m going to go to hell, and if I go to hell, I’m not going to go to hell for quitting,'” he shared. Shortly after the vision of his wife’s smiling face, Harris’ condition improved rapidly.
Now with half a pancreas, Harris is slated to join the evening news team at WJLA for the 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. airings. Despite a return to his normal schedule, Harris realizes how blessed he is.
“If I die twice on the table and I’m still here…God kicked my butt out of Heaven twice, so I’m supposed to be here,” Harris said. “I can’t quit.”