Dean Winters recalls the time he died and came back to life in 2009

Dean Winters’ life flashed before his eyes in June 2009 when his heart stopped beating on the way to a New York City hospital.

“I had a rough ride in an ambulance. I went septic due to an illness that I had as a kid and it caught up with me,” the Oz alum, 54, told Us Weekly exclusively at the recent premiere of The White Crow. “I was dead in the back of an ambulance, and the great doctors at Lenox Hill Hospital brought me back to life after around four-and-a-half minutes.”

Winters did not see a white light like in the movies, but he “had no idea what happened.”

“They don’t tell you what happened until a couple of months later,” he explained to Us. “They don’t want to send you back into a mental trauma. It woke me up to a lot of things that were fuzzy.”

The 30 Rock alum had contracted a bacterial infection and collapsed when he stopped by his doctor’s office near Central Park. He went into cardiac arrest while being rushed to the hospital, and “died on Fifth Avenue,” as he told Page Six a year later. He ended up spending three weeks in the intensive care unit.

After being sent home, Winters spent a month recuperating at his apartment in the Tribeca area. Suddenly, he developed gangrene, a condition that occurs when body tissue dies. Over the next year, he had to have two toes and half of a thumb amputated. He underwent a total of 10 operations, including skin grafts.

“For the [30 Rock] season finale, I had casts on both arms, and another on my foot, which was kept off camera,” he told Page Six in 2010. “And [Tina Fey] literally had me propped up on a stool.”

Since then, the actor has found a new appreciation for life — and his career has not slowed down. He continued to appear as Brian Cassidy on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, in addition to having recurring roles in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, BattleCreek, Divorce and movies including JohnWick and AfterEverything.

With reporting by Nicki Gostin

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SVA THEATRE, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2019/04/26: Dean Winters attends world premiere of movie Crown Vic on Tribeca Film Festival at SVA Theatre. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: Actor Dean Winters is seen arriving to the 'Crown Vic' screening at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival at SVA Theater on April 26, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 26: Dean Winters attends the "Crown Vic" Premiere After Party at the Bulleit 3D printed Frontier Lounge during Tribeca Film Festival on April 26, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Bulleit Frontier Whiskey)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 22: Rosie Perez, Alexis Bloom and Dean Winters attend The Cinema Society And Monkey 47 Gin Host The After Party For Sony Pictures Classics' "The White Crow" at R17 on April 22, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 27: Actor Dean Winters attends the "Tigerland" New York Screening at Crosby Street Hotel on March 27, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 22: Dean Winters attends "The White Crow" New York Premiere at Metrograph on April 22, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Julianna Margulies and Dean Winters attend the 71st Annual Writers Guild Awards New York ceremony at Edison Ballroom on February 17, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Writers Guild of America, East)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Dean Winters attends the 71st Annual Writers Guild Awards New York ceremony at Edison Ballroom on February 17, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Writers Guild of America, East)
LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT -- "Facing Demons" Episode 2016 -- Pictured: Dean Winters as Brian Cassidy -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT -- "Facing Demons" Episode 2016 -- Pictured: Dean Winters as Brian Cassidy -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT -- "Facing Demons" Episode 2016 -- Pictured: Dean Winters as Brian Cassidy -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 28: Mariska Hargitay and Dean Winters are seen on January 28, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 17: Ruby Winters (L) and Dean Winters attend the "Mary Poppins Returns" after party hosted by the Cinema Society at The Top of The Standard on December 17, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 17: Dean WInters and Penelope Winters attend The Cinema Society With FIJI Water, Lindt Chocolate, Entertainment Weekly & People Host A Screening Of Disney's "Mary Poppins Returns at SVA Theater on December 17, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 17: Dean Winters (L) attends The Cinema Society's screening of "Mary Poppins Returns" co-hosted by Lindt Chocolate at SVA Theatre on December 17, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Pont/Getty Images for Lindt Chocolate)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: Tara Westwood and Dean Winters attend the "Roma" New York Special Screening on November 27, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Netflix)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 22: Actors Dean Winters, Tara Westwood and guest attend the world premiere after party for "Hunter Killer" hosted by Lionsgate at Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on October 22, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 14: Actor Dean Winters attends the "Gotti" New York premiere at SVA Theater on June 14, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 03: Latrell Sprewell and Dean Winters attend New York Knicks Vs Orlando Magic game at Madison Square Garden on April 3, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/Getty Images)
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