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November 13, 2017

Dorenbos: Aorta, 'size of a Coke can,' could have caused on-field death

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091516_Dorenbos_AP Michael Perez/AP

Magician Jon Dorenbos, who finished third on this season of "America's Got Talent," chats with fans while working his day job as long-snapper for the Philadelphia Eagles.

If there's anything remotely bittersweet about the Philadelphia Eagles' exhilarating 2017 season,  it's the absence of beloved former long-snapper Jon Dorenbos. 

RELATED: How Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos turned unthinkable misery into pure magic

The 11-year Eagles' mainstay retired suddenly from football after an offseason trade to the New Orleans Saints, whose team doctor discovered signs of an aortic aneurysm that would require immediate open-heart surgery. 

Dorenbos, 37, returned to Philadelphia to undergo an emergency procedure at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he remained for a month before posting a heartfelt message and photos on Instagram.

A year earlier, Dorenbos had captured the whole country's attention as a magician on "America's Got Talent," but all of a sudden he was lucky to be alive.

Appearing Monday afternoon on "Ellen," Dorenbos opened up about some of the scarier details of his medical condition, including the moment the Saints' team physician noticed an urgent issue and how doctors broke the heavy news to him.

Here's how Dorenbos explained it:

Basically what I had is, when my heart was pumping blood out, a lot of blood was leaking back in, so it was working really hard" Dorenbos said. "And right above that you have an aorta, which is, in layman's terms, the vein that pumps all the blood around. Well, that was expanding like a water balloon. So your aorta should be about that big [gestures] and mine was the size of a Coke can. And uh, they basically told me, 'had you been hit in the chest on Monday Night Football, the odds were far greater that you would die than live.

Dorenbos is fortunately recovering well and  is recently married. He also just got himself a new pooch who will have plenty to be thankful for — namely, Ellen DeGeneres — this holiday season. Watch the full clip below.