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Miles O’Brien, the former CNN anchor, was on assignment in Asia earlier this month when a freak accident led to an emergency surgery that resulted in the amputation of his left arm, above the elbow. On his blog, he writes about what happened:
I had finished my last shoot after a long reporting trip to Japan and the Philippines and was stacking the Pelican cases brimming with TV gear onto my cart. As I tried to bungee cord them into some semblance of security for movement, one of the cases toppled onto my left forearm. Ouch! It hurt, but I wasn’t all “911” about it. It was painful and swollen but I figured it would be okay without any medical intervention.
That was on February 12. By the morning of the 14th the swelling had increased. He went to a doctor who, upon seeing his arm, admitted him to the hospital and recommended an emergency procedure to relieve the pressure. By then, it was too late.
Of course I wasn’t awake for the action but I was told later that things tanked even further once I was on the table. And when I lost blood pressure during the surgery due to the complications of compartment syndrome, the doctor made a real-time call and amputated my arm just above the elbow. He later told me it all boiled down to a choice… between a life and a limb.
So I woke up to a new reality in the hospital. It’s been a challenging week dealing with the phantom pain, the vicissitudes of daily life with one hand and the worries about what lies ahead.
O’Brien, 54, worked for CNN for 16 years. He was the network’s lead space correspondent and anchored “American Morning” from 2005-2007. Following his departure from CNN in 2008, O’Brien formed his own production company creating stories for outlets including PBS, Discovery, and Spaceflightnow.com. He’s been PBS Newshour’s science reporter since 2010.