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PBS reporter Miles O'Brien recounts amputation

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- PBS science correspondent Miles O'Brien said Tuesday his left arm was amputated above the elbow after an apparently minor injury put his life in jeopardy.

In a blog post on his personal website Tuesday, which was verified by PBS, O'Brien recounted the Feb. 12 blow to his arm he suffered while on assignment in Asia and the medical emergency that followed.

He was diagnosed with "acute compartment syndrome," O'Brien said, in which blocked blood flow in an enclosed space in the body can cause life-threatening consequences.

Part of his arm was removed in a choice between "a life and a limb," O'Brien said, quoting his doctor. He is grateful to be alive, the PBS reporter said.

O'Brien has continued working despite the ordeal, PBS spokeswoman Anne Bell said.

The former CNN science and space correspondent covers science for "PBS NewsHour" and is a correspondent for public TV's documentary series "Frontline" and the National Science Foundation's Science Nation online magazine.

According to his blog, O'Brien was securing cases filled with camera gear on a cart as he wrapped up a reporting trip to Japan and the Philippines. One of the cases fell onto his left forearm, he wrote, adding, "It hurt, but I wasn't all `911' about it."

The arm was sore and swollen the next day but worsened on the next, Feb. 14, and he sought medical care. O'Brien did not detail where he was and PBS couldn't immediately provide the information.

At the hospital, as his pain increased and arm numbness set in, a doctor recommended an emergency procedure to relive the pressure within the limb, O'Brien wrote.

"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," O'Brien wrote.

He typed the blog post with one hand and help from speech recognition software, he noted, and ended it with dark humor.

"Life is all about playing the hand that is dealt you. Actually, I would love somebody to deal me another hand right about now - in more ways than one," O'Brien wrote.


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ninjadrvr February 26 2014 at 6:06 AM

Miles O'Brien? when did he leave Deep Space Nine?

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seidbet February 26 2014 at 11:06 AM

I have respected Miles O'Brien and his work since I began watching him on CNN some years back. He is knowledgable, expert, and professional in every way. My best wishes to you Miles O'Brien for a full recovery and continued successful and happy life.

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ChristyE February 26 2014 at 9:20 AM

Wow, hard choice. Who knows if he was receiving adequate medical care where he was but he's right-play the hand you're dealt. His pun was intended I think. It's not the end of the world, just life as he knew it but he can adjust, it's up to him.

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Carla Leo February 26 2014 at 9:49 AM

This is a traumatic event. I am so sorry to hear it but I just know there is a story brewing for you about your new cutting-edge prosthetic hand and all that it is capable of! I have been watching and enjoying you for years and hope to see much more of you and your reporting. Best wishes to you and your family!

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andaluzaguapa February 26 2014 at 10:05 AM

The Lord bless you, and keep you . The Lord make his face to shine
upon you, and be gracious unto you The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace!!!

Flag Reply +7 rate up
frank1946 February 26 2014 at 10:09 AM

Each day a gift to you.

Each day a Blessing of Good.

Thankfully, still alive.

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bookquick February 26 2014 at 10:26 AM

best wishes!

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timadiniro February 26 2014 at 10:44 AM

I wish Mr. O'Brien all the best and I hope he has the support of his family and friends. He needs it more than anything. My brother just had a below the knee amputated a week ago. No insurance and with no money - to get a prosthetic so can go back to living. Yes, things happen and we have to move forward, be thankful and grow,

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paul4v44 February 26 2014 at 10:58 AM

You go, Miles.....to be able to keep your sense of humor after that says a lot about you.

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northinsus February 26 2014 at 8:32 AM

God Bless You, Sir

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