Dean Winters’ amazing journey back from death

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the day Dean Winters died.

In a harrowing story he’s never told before, the actor from “Oz,” “Rescue Me” and “30 Rock” collapsed with a bacterial infection on his way to Lenox Hill Hospital when his heart stopped beating for 2½ minutes.

Winters had awakened the day before with a bad fever, and had gone back to sleep instead of seeking help. When he awoke on June 19, 2009, “I was the color gray,” Winters, looking remarkably fit, told Page Six over lunch the other day.

“I was afraid to go to St. Vincent’s, so I went to my doctor’s office on Central Park West, where I collapsed. I was turning black, and my whole head was swelling up.”

As the ambulance raced across the park, “I died on Fifth Avenue,” Winters said. The paramedics were able to bring him back, and he spent three weeks in the ICU.

After a month of recuperation at his TriBeCa apartment, Winters developed gangrene. Doctors amputated two toes and half a thumb. In the past year, he spent 95 days in hospitals and had 10 operations, including skin grafts and one in which a forearm muscle was used to rebuild his right hand.

Winters had starred in the pilot for “Happy Town” right before his near-death. When ABC picked up the show, Stephen Weber was given his role. “People in Los Angeles think I’m dead,” Winters laughed.

Tina Fey put him to work as soon as he was able. “For the [’30 Rock’] season finale, I had casts on both arms, and another on my foot, which was kept off-camera. And she literally had me propped up on a stool.”

In the comeback of the century, Winters landed the Allstate Insurance campaign launching today, replacing ads that featured Dennis Haysbert. In his highest-paying role ever, Winters plays destructive Mr. Mayhem.

Winters, who has a new appreciation of life, said, “I feel like I’m a member of a very exclusive club — with a very tight door policy. It’s gonna take more than a finger and a couple of toes to keep me down.”

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