George Knapp isn't the only talent knocked off the air by sepsis. WXII Anchor/Reporter Margaret Johnson also had a bout with Sepsis and is back on the air after missing a month and a half.
“I am thrilled to be back,” Johnson, the noon anchor and a general assignment reporter at WXII-12 News, said Tuesday afternoon. “I’ve hit the ground running; it’s kind of what I do.”
It was her first full day back after a medical leave that lasted a month and a half, but it was hard to tell. During the noon newscast, she was working full-tilt. During commercial breaks she was scrolling through an iPad, talking with production personnel and setting up an interview she would be doing later that day.
“I just appreciate so much the prayers that people prayed for me, the email, the cards, they have just been absolutely wonderful to let me know they’re behind me and they’re with me,” she said shortly after the end of the newscast. “I want to let them know that no, the cancer is not back.”
In 2005, Johnson took a long absence from the station while being treated for pancreatic cancer. Her prospects at the time were grim, but she went through a risky surgical procedure followed by radiation treatments and chemotherapy. She later had to undergo more surgery and radiation for throat cancer. She is tested every six months and is happy to say that she remains cancer-free.
This time, however, she was out because of a bout with sepsis that morphed into a “superbug” called Klebsiella pneumoniae. The infection occurred during what was supposed to be a routine liver biopsy in December.
“I was told during the biopsy that somehow some kind of bacteria got disturbed and flowed out into my bloodstream and contaminated it, and threatened to take my life,” she said. “It’s still really unclear how the bacteria developed.”
Later that day, she became ill, with an elevated fever, nausea and a drastic drop in her blood pressure.
“I was in a world of pain by the time I got to the hospital,” she recalled. “I spent all day in the ER, then seven or eight days in the ICU.”
Thanks to antibiotics she was able to return home to rest, but it was several weeks before she was up to going back on the air.
The station didn’t say much about her absence. “We were trying to protect her privacy,” said Hank Price, the president and general manager of WXII.