TODAY   |  April 24, 2013

Boston survivor to rescuers: ‘You saved my life’

Northeastern University student Victoria McGrath, 20, who was seriously injured in the Boston Marathon bombing, meets the heroes responsible for rescuing her, without whom, doctors say, she would have died.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> now to an emotional reunion that's tied to that tragedy in boston. a 20-year-old college student getting the chance to thank the individuals who saved her life. nbc's kerry sanders was there. kerry, good morning to you.

>> reporter: well, good morning, matt. not a dry eye here on the sixth floor of tufts medical center , and for good reason. victoria mcgrath says she owes her life to four strangers.

>> my leg is like throbbing.

>> reporter: pain that only a mother's hug can comfort.

>> i was literally five feet away from where the first bomb went off. i don't know how you can put a bomb there and look at the people around and know that you're going to kill them. i don't -- i don't understand it.

>> reporter: victoria mcgrath's rescue was captured in this iconic image.

>> thank you.

>> reporter: on tuesday, victoria met the man who carried her to safe, firefighter jimmy plurd.

>> you looked right at me, like, i'm so scared, and i'm like, we're out of here, i'm picking you up, and you're like, no.

>> i thought there was going to be more bombings.

>> reporter: also at tufts medical center , bruce mendelson, a bystander who ran towards the explosion, not away.

>> you are smaller than i remember.

>> he was the first to reach victoria , used a t-shirt to tie a tourniquet to her leg.

>> the doctor told me that if you hadn't have done that, i would have died. you save midlife. otherwise i would have bled out, because it hit the artery.

>> wow.

>> reporter: x-rays reveal a one-inch piece of schlep nehrapnel tore into victoria 's leg.

>> so a matter of centimeters.

>> reporter: lisa sham bla was in a medical tent at the finish line when victoria was carried in.

>> it's so good to see you.

>> reporter: but the first to see her in that tent was tyler dodd.

>> i can stand up.

>> are you sure?

>> yeah.

>> reporter: in that tent, victoria was hysterical.

>> just your voice, it's so calming.

>> reporter: tyler then told her he had been hit by shrapnel in afghanistan. he promised she'd be okay.

>> he wasn't a soldier in afghanistan, he wasn't in combat.

>> reporter: so this is the little white lie that you embraced?

>> yeah, i don't regret it. i don't regret him telling me that.

>> reporter: through it all, the blood loss, the chaos, victoria says it was alicia who sparked her will to live.

>> in the ambulance is when i realized that i had to hold on.

>> you had a chance to meet these four strangers who played a role in your survival. what's that like?

>> i'm so thankful. so thankful.

>> you guys are so brave.

>> reporter: victoria may be released from the hospital as early as today. she had extensive nerve damage to her leg, but doctors say with therapy, he may eventually get back close to normal, maybe even able to walk some day without a limp.

>> wow, kerry, that's an incredible story. thank you very much.