April 5, 2013 at 7:30 AM ET
Ten years after his death, journalist David Bloom is remembered for his enthusiasm, daring reporting and devotion to his family.
The former NBC correspondent and Weekend TODAY co-anchor was most in his element on the dangerous front lines of war-torn areas and at home with his wife and three daughters. On April 6, 2003, while covering the war in Iraq, Bloom, 39, died when a blood clot in his leg traveled to an artery in his lungs to cause a fatal pulmonary embolism, as a result of a condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Since his death, his wife Melanie has become a leading advocate for DVT awareness, working to keep his memory alive. She can still recall her husband’s excitement when chasing a big story in a desert far from home, exhausted but grinning.
“He always kept this sort of boyish enthusiasm, and he brought a real zest and passion to everything he did,’’ Melanie told Lester Holt on TODAY Saturday. “(He was) very competitive — not just in the news place, but on the tennis court or at home with a game of backgammon. Always with a smile, but he was really driven and competitive.”
It was that type of infectious enthusiasm and competitiveness that allowed Bloom to convince Pentagon officials to approve him to be embedded in an NBC satellite truck with the army formation leading the first wave into the invasion of Iraq. He also was able to convince his wife to let him go into a hostile situation.
“At first I was like 'Nope, nope you're not going to Iraq,’’’ she said. “But he was so full of this vision and he knew he could make it happen and he did.’’
Bloom was also incredibly passionate about his family. "When he was home, he was doting on our three little girls and he just lit up the room," Melanie said.
Melanie has since remarried and has a blended family of five children. She still takes comfort in the final email Bloom sent her.
“When the moment comes when you are talking about my last days, I am determined that they will say he was devoted to his wife and children, and he gave every ounce of his being not to himself but to those he cared about most: God and family,’’ he wrote.
Bloom's twin girls were nine years old and his youngest daughter was three when he died of DVT, a condition that claims the lives of more than 100,000 Americans every year.
“At the time I remembered that they said he died of a blood clot, and I really couldn't wrap my mind around that,’’ Melanie said. “It just didn't make sense to me. I thought maybe he had taken a bullet or there'd been an explosion that created this blood clot.
The clot in Bloom’s leg was likely brought on by spending long days and nights cramped inside armored vehicles. One night he called Melanie from a satellite phone in the middle of the night, exposing himself to hostile fire just to get a few minutes outside of an armored tank because his legs had been cramping up. While Bloom’s DVT came from battlefield conditions, the risk factors for the condition extend to mundane activities.
“If you've been on a long flight, you're a woman and you're on birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, that increases your risk,’’ Melanie explained. “By the time the clot hits the lung, you have only a 50-50 chance of survival.”
Bloom’s story and his widow’s diligent work have helped spread the word about a condition she had never heard of until it claimed his life.
“In the last 10 years we’ve come from very little awareness in the public of this entity deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism,’’ Dr. Geno Merli, a clinical professor at Jefferson University and co-director of the Jefferson Vascular Center, told TODAY. “We’ve moved the needle up about 20, 25 percent. I think when people see David's story and watched him on TV, I think they got some perspective.’’