Leon Harris Returns to WJLA After Severe Illness: ‘I feel like I got a second chance’

By Merrill Knox 

After a monthlong medical absence, Leon Harris will return to the WJLA anchor desk next week. The Washington, DC ABC affiliate reports Harris spent two weeks in the hospital last month battling a life-threatening case of necrotizing pancreatitis, a severe inflammation of his pancreas.

Harris was rushed to the hospital on August 1 after waking up with severe stomach pains, WJLA reports:

He was airlifted to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, where he was was placed on a ventilator and had several tubes placed past his vocal chords into his lungs. But Harris says he couldn’t stand the tubes and reflexively tried to tear them out. He was then given drugs to help calm him down and was placed in restraints. Harris, who weighs 230 pounds, is 6-foot-1 and works out every day, broke free of three of the restraints, earning him the nickname “Bear” from the hospital staff.


He says he fought against the tubes because they made his breathing so difficult that he felt like he was drowning.

“It was like trying to snorkel across the Potomac with a cocktail straw,” he says, adding that he was eventually placed on an anti-psychotic drug to keep him from pulling out the tubes.

Harris lost 15 pounds and spent two weeks in the hospital before he was released. “I feel like I got a second chance,” he said.