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October 30, 2014

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Miles O'ÂBrien, Former CNN Anchor, Opens Up About Arm Amputation

Miles O'™Brien, Former CNN Anchor, Opens Up About Arm Amputation

02/26/2014

Miles O’Brien, a PBS science correspondent and former CNN anchor, recently took to his blog to recount the story of how his arm came to be amputated.

Miles O'Brien Details Amputation

O’Brien had been on assignment in Asia earlier this month when a freak accident landed him in the hospital. He’d been securing camera equipment onto a cart before departing the region, when one of the cases fell onto his forearm. Although the initial pain didn’t alarm him, the ensuing discomfort led him to a hospital.

“Over the next few hours, I endured probably the longest, most painful experience I could ever imagine,” wrote O’Brien, who was told he was experiencing Acute Compartment Syndrome. "My forearm developed some dusky discoloration, but more alarming was the numbness. I could not feel my forearm! The doctor recommended an emergency fasciotomy to relieve the pressure.”

It was during the emergency surgery that the surgeon working on O’Brien was forced to make a difficult judgment call when the correspondent lost blood pressure on the table. “The doctor made a real-time call and amputated my arm just above the elbow,” according to O’Brien. “He later told me it all boiled down to a choice… between a life and a limb.”

Although O’Brien admits that since the amputation he’s had to contend with a number of troubles – including phantom pain where his hand had been – he’s thankful to have his life. “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,” he wrote. “But I am alive and I’m grateful for that.”

– Chelsea Regan

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Read more: Miles O'™Brien, Health, PBS

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