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Woodruff's wife discusses ordeal on ‘Oprah’

The wife of former ABC news anchor Bob Woodruff says she wondered if she’d ever have her husband back after he suffered brain injuries in an Iraq roadside bomb attack last year.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The wife of former ABC news anchor Bob Woodruff says she wondered if she’d ever have her husband back after he suffered brain injuries in an Iraq roadside bomb attack last year.

“I didn’t care about Bob the anchor. I didn’t care about Bob the career person, and the Bob that was being flashed all over the TV. This is my husband, this is my kids’ dad,” Lee Woodruff said Tuesday on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

“I just looked at (the doctor) and I said, ‘I just want to know, will he still love me?”’

Bob Woodruff met with reporters in New York on Monday for the first time since being injured 13 months ago. But Winfrey’s show was the first time Lee Woodruff talked at length about the ordeal.

“It still astounds me that we’ve been able to get through what we’ve gotten through so far,” said Bob Woodruff, who was injured about a month into his tenure as co-anchor of “World News Tonight.”

The couple, who have four children, appeared on Winfrey’s show to discuss their memoir, “In an Instant: A Family’s Journey of Love and Healing,” published by Random House.

Woodruff was riding in an Iraqi army tank in Taji, Iraq, his head and upper body exposed through the hatch on Jan. 29, 2006, when a roadside bomb tore off part of his skull. Cameraman Doug Vogt was also wounded.

Lee Woodruff said that when she first saw her injured husband, in a hospital in Germany, he was in a coma and doctors had removed part of his skull because his brain was swollen.

“The left side of his face looked like a monster, it looked like a Frankenstein experiment,” she said. “His brain was swollen out of his head like a rugby ball.”

She said one of her greatest strengths was her friend Melanie Bloom, widow of NBC journalist David Bloom, who died in Iraq in 2003 from an apparent blood clot.

Bloom, who also appeared on the broadcast, said Lee Woodruff never left her side after her husband’s death. So the two women flew to Germany together after Woodruff was injured, and on the plane discussed how everything could play out.

“I’m your worst-case scenario,” Bloom said she told her friend. “The worst thing that could happen is that we would lose Bob, and my girls are OK and I’m OK. And so, worst-case scenario — let’s go from there.”