An incredibly poised and positive Boston Marathon bombing survivor, Heather Abbott, told reporters Thursday she's "overwhelmed" by the outpouring of support she's received after having her leg amputated below the knee. Abbott was injured by one of the shrapnel-packed bombs set off in the attack, which wounded more than 200 and killed three people. At least 14 of the wounded have had amputations.
"I'm overwhelmed by the amount of support and patience and just general interest in caring [about] my situation by my friends and my family and by people I don't even know," Abbott said at a press conference at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston Thursday afternoon.
Abbott, from Newport, R.I., said she and her friends were in Boston for their annual tradition of attending a Red Sox game. She described waiting in line to get into a bar on Boylston Street with two of her friends on April 15 when she heard the first explosion go off. Seconds later, the force of the second explosion blew her into the bar.
"I was on the ground, everybody was running to the back of the bar," Abbott recalled. "I felt like my foot was on fire; I knew I couldn't stand up. I didn't know what to do. I was just screaming, 'Somebody please help me.' I remember thinking, 'Who is going to help me? Everybody is running for their lives.'"
But to Abbott's surprise, a woman rushed in and tried to drag her out of the bar. A man she identified as Matt Chatham then carried her to an ambulance. "I'm actually supposed to meet him at some point, so I'm really looking forward to that," Abbott said of her rescuer.
The 38-year-old's doctor, Eric Bluman, said he believes she will be able to walk with the help of a prosthetic after months of rehabilitation. Abbott said she's hopeful she can do Zumba classes and go running again after her recovery. She agreed to an amputation because it was the "best-case scenario." If doctors had opted to save her foot, it would most likely never have fully healed, she said. Abbott said various foundations and groups have offered to help her pay for the care.
She also said she at first wondered what might have happened if she had not gone to Boston that day or had arrived at the bar five minutes earlier or later, but that she has stopped entertaining such thoughts.
"It's so hard for me to focus on anything negative," she said. "I try not to dwell on it. ... This is the situation I'm faced with. It's not going to change."