Miles O'Brien home after freak accident

NORTHWEST, DC (WUSA9) -- PBS Correspondent and former CNN Anchor Miles O'Brien has returned home to Washington after a freak accident overseas cost him his arm. It could have easily cost him his life.

In his first interview since returning to the States, the Chevy Chase resident and science correspondent speaks to WUSA9's Surae Chinn.

PBS Science Reporter Miles O'Brien dives right back into work after returning to the U.S. a few days ago without his left arm.

Former CNN Anchor who focuses on science, technology and aerospace is moderating a panel on climate change at the National Academy of Sciences in Northwest, a commitment he made well before his accident.

O'Brien said, "Sometimes the best tonic is to stay focused on work. I love what I do and this is an important document and I'm happy to be a part of it and frankly it's a nice distraction to focus on things I care about and stuff that's more related to my work. It helps me."

He told the world about the mishap in his blog:

"I wish I had a better story to tell you about why I am typing this with one hand (and some help from Dragon Dictate). A shark attack would be interesting. An assassination attempt would be intriguing. Skydiving mishaps always make for good copy. An out-of-control quad copter that turns on its master would be entertaining (and would come complete with a grim, potentially viral, video). No, the reason I am now one-handed is a little more prosaic than those scenarios"

He was on a shoot in Japan and the Philippines, reporting on the aftermath of the Fukishima disaster. It was a seemingly minor accident. He was packing up his TV equipment to come home, when a case full of camera gear fell on his forearm.

Two days later he was in the hospital suffering from Acute Compartment Syndrome, a condition where blood flow is cutoff to the muscle. The doctor made the life and death decision to amputate his arm above the elbow.

"The symptoms don't present themselves until you're kind of late in the game, so the consequence would've been the same no matter where I would've been," O'Brien says.

Being the caretaker that he is, O'Brien did not tell his family until he returned to the United States on Monday, two weeks after the accident. His girlfriend says that was his way of processing what happened and protecting his family knowing they couldn't do anything about it.

O'Brien says he is dealing with pain and the healing process.

Little did this science reporter know he has been preparing and doing the research throughout his career, on what would become invaluable information in his personal life and his new reality as an amputee.

"It's interesting, one of the first things I did was look at a piece I did for the Newshour to remind myself who the experts are, if nothing else it's an opportunity to buy some really cool new gadgets," says O'Brien.

He has a way of making light of his serious condition. But when it comes to how grateful he is to the support he has received, he says "It's nice to know people are out there. We work in a business where we stare at the unblinking eye and a lot of times you want to knock on the lens to see if anyone's on the other side. This is not the way to hear from people. I'm not going to recommend this to people. I've heard from a lot of people, who have been so supportive and would bring me to tears if I started thinking about it. I suppose it's a little bit like seeing what people might say at your funeral except I'm still around to be there for it. I'm alive. I'm glad to be alive and people say such nice things that I made it through, helps a lot."


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