WJLA anchor Leon Harris appeared on ABC's Good Morning America Monday, sharing details about his absence and the necrotizing pancreatitis that nearly took his life.
Harris was admitted to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda Aug. 1 with acute stomach pain and was airlifted the next day to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. His pancreas was so inflamed that he spent two weeks in an intensive care unit, much of it unconscious.
On two occasions, Harris's heart stopped and he had to be revived.
"It was worse than Mike Tyson punching me," Harris said of the pain.
The 52-year-old Harris told Good Morning America he struggled most with breathing through a ventilator, a task he compared to "snorkeling across a big lake with a cocktail straw." Exhausted by breathing through a tube, Harris said he was ready to die. He closed his eyes and saw the image of his wife Dawn.
"I can't quit on her," Harris said he remembered thinking. "If I quit on her, I'm going to hell. If I go to hell, I'm not going for quitting."
Harris will be back in his chair at WJLA's anchor desk for Monday's 5 and 11 p.m. newscasts.