Leigh Sales fronts the public broadcaster’s 7.30. Picture: ABC
Leigh Sales fronts the public broadcaster’s 7.30. Picture: ABC

The night Leigh Sales almost died

SHE'S at the top of her game in an industry where that is no ordinary feat.

But just four years ago, widely regarded journalist and television presenter Leigh Sales wasn't sure if she would live or die.

In her new book Any Ordinary Day, Sales explores sudden, personal tragedy drawn from a series of interviews with the likes of Walter Mikac, whose wife and two young daughters were killed in the Port Arthur massacre in 1996. In doing so, Sales also recounts her own brush with death.

In February 2014, the host of the ABC's 7.30 was pregnant with her second child when she suffered a uterine rupture - a tear the size of a cricket ball - in the upper left side of her uterus. The condition is rare and often fatal with medial textbooks describing it as "catastrophic" because of its "high incidence of foetal and maternal morbidity".

Sales was given three blood transfusions during surgery. Her surgeon - who'd had to cut vertically right up her stomach, not just the standard caesarean incision at the pubic bone - told her that her abdomen was "a sea of blood", Fairfax reports.

"I remember lying there when I woke up, and partly I think I was just in shock," Sales told Fairfax. "But also my brain was just desperately trying to regain some sense of control: 'What's my life going to be like after this; will the baby be OK; who's got my two-year-old (Daniel); what's going on?'"

Leigh Sales has carved out an impressive career on television. But in 2014, she nearly lost everything, as she fought for her life.
Leigh Sales has carved out an impressive career on television. But in 2014, she nearly lost everything, as she fought for her life.

Fortunately, Sales and her newborn son, James, survived.

In her book, Sales said the near-death experience left her "frightened by what had happened".

"I was also scared of what appeared on my own TV program every night, how fickle and cruel the world often seemed," she recalled in Any Ordinary Day.

"Mostly I was worried about what might happen to me next. What if something else went wrong? Something even worse?"

Sales' friend and fellow journalist Pamela Williams described the entertainer as "extremely funny, sparkling entertainer" as "someone who thinks everything right through, and feels things very intensely".

"The horror of what she went through - I mean she nearly died, the baby nearly died - just unmoored her, I think," Ms Williams wrote.

Leigh Sales' book, Any Ordinary Day (Penguin Hamish Hamilton, $35) is out Monday

Leigh Sales with her eldest son Daniel Willis in 2015. Picture: John Appleyard
Leigh Sales with her eldest son Daniel Willis in 2015. Picture: John Appleyard
Leigh Sales is widely regarded for her hard-hitting interviews with politicians.
Leigh Sales is widely regarded for her hard-hitting interviews with politicians.

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