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Marathon Bombing Victim Makes The Decision To Amputate

Heather Abbott, of Newport, R.I., underwent a below the knee amputation on her left leg following injuries she sustained at the Boston Marathon bombings. (Steven Senne/AP)

On Monday, one week after the Boston Marathon bombing, surgeons removed Heather Abbott’s left leg below the knee.

The 38-year-old from Newport, R.I., became the 15th explosion victim to lose a limb. Unlike many patients, Abbott made the decision herself after hearing the pros and cons from doctors and other patients who faced a similar decision in the past.
Abbott's Story
Heather Abbott was in Boston for her annual Patriot's Day pilgrimage. She and a group of friends took in the Red Sox game and then went to watch the Boston Marathon. They were waiting to get into Forum, a bar near the finish line, when the first blast hit.
"I was the last of the three of us in line," Abbott said. "A loud noise went off. I remember turning around and seeing smoke and people screaming."
Then, before Abbott could turn around again, a second explosion blew her into the bar.
"I felt like my foot was on fire," Abbott recalled in a calm, measured voice that belies her experience. "I was just screaming, 'Somebody please help me.' And I was thinking, 'Who’s going to help me?' I mean everyone’s just running for their lives. To my surprise there were two women and two men who helped me get out of the bar and into an ambulance."
One of the men, Abbott learned, was former Patriots linebacker Matt Chatham. Abbott had surgery immediately at Brigham and Women's Hospital to restore shattered veins and get blood flowing to her left foot. After follow-up operations, doctors told Abbott they could "salvage" her foot, but amputating her leg below the knee and fitting her with a prosthetic limb might be a better option.

This program aired on April 26, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

Martha Bebinger Twitter Reporter
Martha Bebinger covers health care and other general assignments for WBUR.

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