ELIZABETH TAYLOR survived a terrifying brush with death as doctors performed emergency surgery to repair a leaky valve leading to her heart, The ENQUIRER has learned exclusively

The crisis unfolded after the screen legend – who turns 79 on Feb. 27 – was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 8.

The Hollywood icon, who suffers from congestive heart failure, was in excruciating abdominal pain, and her blood pressure was plummeting, sources say.

"Liz was leaking blood internally from a heart valve," a source told The ENQUIRER.

"She’d had it repaired once before, but her health was deteriorating so rapidly that another leak erupted."

As her condition worsened, her children were summoned, and she was placed on a respirator. On Feb. 12, surgeons operated to stem the bleeding.

"Liz is so fragile that any procedure is high risk," the source added. "Afterward, her response was slow. She came very close to dying."

Her condition began to stabilize several hours after surgery, but the episode is only the most recent health crisis for Liz. She’s endured a multitude of maladies, including a benign brain tumor, three hip replacement operations, a stroke, seizures and osteoporosis.

She’s been wheelchair-bound for years due to agonizing back pain, and was recently diagnosed with stress fractures in both knees.

As The ENQUIRER recently reported, she’s also tethered to an oxygen tank nearly 24/7 due to persistent respiratory problems.

 Sadly, her long-term prognosis is grim.

"The odds of her recovering are overwhelmingly against her," said Dr. Walter Gaman, a Texas physician who specializes in family medicine.

"At her age, when a person suffers from multisystem disease – heart, lungs and osteoporosis are examples – there is much less than a 50-percent chance of recovery."