July 11, 2013 at 8:05 AM ET
In one of the most memorable pictures from the Boston Marathon bombing, Jeff Bauman is being hustled to safety in a wheelchair by Carlos Arredondo after suffering life-threatening injuries that included the loss of his legs.
Bauman, 27, has become the face of the resilient spirit of Boston in the wake of the bombings as he continues to heal and learn to walk with his prosthetic legs. Arredondo, wearing his trademark cowboy hat in the viral photo, has come to symbolize the selflessness of strangers who ran toward the danger to help those injured. The two spoke with NBC’s Brian Williams in a segment on TODAY Thursday about the strong bond they have formed in the aftermath of the ordeal.
“He’s great,’’ Bauman said. “Every time I see him now, he’s so uplifting. He’s so concerned with how I’m doing and how I’m feeling. He’s amazing.”
Bauman has gotten financial assistance to help defray the cost of his prosthetics, which are $100,000 each, from the non-profit Wiggle Your Toes Foundation. In May, he threw out the first pitch at a Boston Red Sox game and has resumed normal activities like swimming and boating.
“I’m stronger,’’ he told Williams. “Way stronger. Like I could lift my whole body weight with these, probably about 100 times if I wanted to.”
Bauman’s remarkably quick recovery has even surprised his medical team.
“It’s insane,’’ he said. “I’m a quick healer. They were calling me ‘Wolverine.’ It’s an X-Men, the guy that heals really quick, because I have burns, and they were gone (quickly). I know it was great care – the nurses tending to my wounds every day that helped me. But (after) four weeks…my burns were almost gone.”
Bauman would not have made it to this point were it not for Arredondo, a Costa Rican-American peace activist who can be seen in the picture pinching a severed artery in Bauman’s right thigh to help stop the massive blood loss.
“He was the one that picked me off the ground,’’ Bauman said. “He said his shoulder was hurting, but he grabbed me with one hand in the chair.”
“I saw the quantity of blood on the floor, and I know Jeff was a person who (needed) to go soon,’’ Arredondo told Williams. “(He needed to go) very quick to the emergency room because he lost so much blood at the time.”
Without Arredondo’s assistance, there is certainly the possibility Bauman may have bled to death.
“It’s pretty insane,’’ Bauman said. “It’s cool.”
Now focused on his recovery, Bauman is looking toward the future.
“I really want to do something great,’’ Bauman said. “I want to be out there. I want to just help people. That’s what I want to do.”