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'Deadliest Catch' star Phil Harris suffers stroke while off-loading boat


By Christopher Rocchio, 02/01/2010 

Deadliest Catch star Phil Harris has been hospitalized after suffering a stroke while captaining his Cornelia Marie crab fishing vessel on Friday.

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"Phil Harris suffered a stroke while in port off-loading from the F/V Cornelia Marie. He has been transported to a medical facility and is receiving the best care possible," said a Discovery Channel spokesperson in a Saturday statement.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and we will make more information available as we know it."

Harris' sons Josh and Jake Harris subsequently thanked everyone for their "heartfelt thoughts and prayers" in a Sunday statement.

"The Deadliest Catch community has always been more like family than just fans, and Discovery Channel joins the Harris boys in thanking everyone for their wishes of support," the network said.

"Captain Phil is resting comfortably and is in the care of excellent doctors and nurses. We will update everyone on his progress as best we can."

According to a statement released on the Cornelia Marie's website on Saturday, Harris suffered the stroke while the boat was docked on St. Paul Island in Alaska.

"He was immediately taken to the clinic in St. Paul -- the same place he was treated when he had a blood clot two years ago," the statement said.

Deadliest Catch's fourth season included coverage of Harris' life-threatening blood clot, which occurred while the Cornelia Marie was at sea and kept the 52-year-old from returning to sea until the 2009 opilio crab season began 11 months later in January 2009.

"So far so good.  They think the blood clot that was in my leg ate itself up or diminished but you have to watch [things] all the time now," Harris said during the show's 2009 After the Catch reunion program.  "The odds are that I said have died right on the boat.  I was really lucky.  I just didn't realize how lucky."

Since the Cornelia Marie is currently in the middle of the 2010 opilio season -- which will be seen on Deadliest Catch's sixth season later this year -- the boat will be resuming fishing without Harris, according to the website.

"The boat is in the harbor now, but needs to be able to leave in case the ice shifts and moves in," according to the website statement.

Harris subsequently underwent surgery on Saturday night, according to a follow-up statement posted on the Cornelia Marie's website on Sunday.

"It may be some time before we know anything substantial about Phil's condition," the Sunday statement said.  "An old family friend of the F/V Cornelia Marie, Derek Ray flew to St. Paul to take on the role of relief skipper for the rest of the Opilio season."

Harris' surgery lasted 12 hour surgery according to TMZ, which also reported he was placed in a medically-induced coma to reduce brain swelling afterwards.

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