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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview with Melanie Bloom, widow of NBC News correspondent David Bloom
Aired March 9, 2005 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BROKAW, "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS": We begin our coverage tonight with NBC's David Bloom -- David.
DAVID BLOOM, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Tom, this 38-year-old woman...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, exclusive. David Bloom was a rising TV news star, headed straight for the top, until his sudden tragic death at the age of 39. And now his widow, Melanie Bloom, the mother of their three children, her first prime time interview discussing his death and on the little-known medical condition that killed him. Next on LARRY KING LIVE.
On April 6, 2003 -- that's nearly two years now -- near Baghdad, Iraq, David Bloom of NBC News died of a pulmonary embolism. We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE for an exclusive prime time interview with Melanie Bloom, his widow, who is now the national spokesperson for the Coalition to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis.
How did you hear -- how did you hear of the death?
MELANIE BLOOM, WIDOW OF NBC CORRESPONDENT DAVID BLOOM: Well, I had never heard of deep vein thrombosis before, until the call came the night that David passed away.
KING: Who called?
BLOOM: An executive producer at NBC called. Their concern was that -- they knew I'd been watching around-the-clock coverage of David's reporting, you know, from the war and...
KING: He was embedded, right?
BLOOM: Yes, he was embedded with the 3rd ID, the 3rd Infantry Division. And their concern was that I might see it go across the crawl as this unfolded. And so they had to call, although they had dispatched people to come personally also to the house.
KING: The call came before the people came?
BLOOM: Yes, unfortunately.
KING: What on earth did the person calling say? BLOOM: He said, Melanie -- and I was -- I woke up to the phone call, so I...
KING: Late at night?
BLOOM: ... thought it was a bad dream. It was shortly before midnight. And he said, I have terrible news, David has passed away. And of course, my mind immediately went to, you know, an act of war. And he went on to say he died of a blood clot, and I just couldn't wrap my mind around that. You know, he was facing every danger there was on the front lines of the battlefield, and yet it was something inside of him that took his life.
KING: So immediately, what sets in, denial?
BLOOM: Shock, just complete and utter shock. I could not believe it. And that took a while. You know...
KING: The children were asleep?
BLOOM: The children were asleep, yes.
KING: How old were they two years ago?
BLOOM: At that time, the twins -- we have twin daughters, they were 9, and the youngest one was 3. All three girls.
KING: Now, the 3-year-old have any consciousness of this?
BLOOM: Absolutely. I really...
BLOOM: Yes. When I sat the girls down to tell them that next morning, which was the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life, I thought it might go over her head a little bit, but really, she grieved. And it's heartbreaking to see a 3-year-old, you know, grieve, and stop eating, stop sleeping. She would cry out at night...
KING: Did you use the word "death"?
BLOOM: ... for her daddy.
KING: You didn't say "go away" or the things they used to say?
BLOOM: I didn't. I didn't. I really didn't. I gave them the straight information. I thought they deserved that, and I...
KING: Their dad had been away, right, for how long?
BLOOM: He had been away -- he had been traveling back and forth to Kuwait in the months leading up to the war. And really with his job, he traveled a lot. So at that time, the embedding situation had been going on for about I would say a month-and-a-half. So it had been a solid month-and-a-half before they'd seen him in person.
KING: Did the 9-year-olds accept the fact that he was in what might be in a dangerous situation?
BLOOM: They did. They did. And I tried to sort of protect them from that as much as I could. I always watched his newscasts before, to make sure it wasn't too frightening, so -- but they thought it was neat to see him on top of the tank and in the middle of the sandstorm with the light sticks up next to his face and things like that. And in a way, it gave them comfort to see, There he is, he's OK, you know, he's fine.
KING: How do you tell them?
BLOOM: Well, again, the hardest thing I've ever done.
KING: Your 9-year-olds.
BLOOM: Yes. The 9-year-olds -- well, I told them all at the same time. And you know, it shattered their little world, and that was very, very difficult to do.
KING: Did you tell them that it was an illness, rather than a killing?
BLOOM: I did. I did. I tried to explain it as best I could. And of course, I didn't really quite understand yet about the blood clot, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism. So I tried to make it as kid-friendly, if you will, as I could. And then, you know, of course, later, they would say to me late a night, Mummy, are you going to get a blood clot and die? You know, it really did instill fear in them, which is part of the reason I'm here is to help other people learn about it so...
KING: That's what we want to do. In fact, later in the program, Dr. David (SIC) Michota will join us, who specializes in this. Because is it not common, right?
BLOOM: Well, actually, it's very common, yet no one has heard of it. That's...
KING: How could it be common and not heard of?
BLOOM: Absolutely. That's what I wanted to know. You know, how did my husband pass away from something I'd never heard of? And what I learned since his death is that this condition takes more lives, more American lives annually than AIDS and breast cancer combined, and yet a study shows that 74 percent of Americans have never heard of DVT.
KING: I'll get to it in a minute. Can it hit any age group?
BLOOM: Yes, actually, it can, and...
KING: Male and female.
BLOOM: Male and female. Male and female.
KING: Let's go back a little. How did you meet David? BLOOM: Well, we met in Wichita, Kansas, where I was working at an advertising agency and he was a local reporter for a station there, and he moved into the apartment right next door to me. So he was my next-door neighbor.
KING: Did you -- you dated in the same building?
BLOOM: We did, yes. I mean...
KING: Did you get married in Kansas?
BLOOM: We dated for two years, and then he took a job in Miami, and so we were...
KING: I remember that.
BLOOM: ... married in Naples, Florida, where his parents were living at the time, so...
KING: I remember David in Miami, coming to Miami...
BLOOM: Yes. Yes.
KING: ... where I started. So did you move down to Miami, get married there?
BLOOM: We were married in Naples, Florida, where his parents spend part of the year.
KING: Was it a very happy marriage?
BLOOM: You know, it was. It was. It had its challenges that are -- you know, that are inherent to your business. He was gone a lot, traveled a lot, and sometimes in very dangerous situations, and you know, it took its toll, certainly. It wasn't a perfect marriage. I don't think any marriages are. But there was a big love there, and...
KING: David was not only very talented but very ambitious, right?
KING: I mean, he wanted to get ahead.
BLOOM: Yes. He loved what he did. He had a real, real passion for his work.
KING: Was he someone who would have wanted Brokaw's job?
BLOOM: Yes, I think that's something, sure, that he was, you know, striving for, certainly.
KING: Why did he want to be embedded?
BLOOM: You know, he thought it was so important to tell the soldiers' story, to bring the true story of war home to the American people from the front line as it happened, you know, and cover it in sort of a technologically innovative way, which he did with this "Bloom-mobile." And he really had a vision of how this war could and should be covered, and he thought it was important to sort of be the voice of the soldier.
KING: It was an incredible time for you, was it not, to hear of this, of this death? Did the Army handle it well? Did NBC handle it well?
BLOOM: Absolutely. Amazingly well. I mean, the military family really embraced us. I mean, they came to the house. A lot of the military wives came to David's funeral, you know, and they would say to me, We would watch his newscast to see that the 3rd ID was OK. If we saw David and -- you know, we knew everything was OK. And the military family really, really embraced us as one of their own. And NBC was great. I mean, they are like an extended family, and they...
KING: How much later was the funeral?
BLOOM: Well, the funeral was...
KING: David was Catholic, right?
BLOOM: Yes. Yes. And we had a small private service in Bedford, where we live, and -- but the big funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral took place, I believe, 10 or 12 days later. They had a hard time just getting David back, you know, from the desert. There was a delay, well, because war was raging on all around and...
KING: You live in Bedford, New York?
BLOOM: We live in Pound Ridge, which is in (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
KING: How far from Martha?
BLOOM: Oh, not too far from Martha. Not too far.
KING: You ever see her on the -- you don't see her on the street now.
KING: All right, we'll talk all about this deep vein thrombosis with quite a lady, Melanie Bloom, the widow of David Bloom, an extraordinary talent gone much too soon. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - MARCH 24, 2004)
BLOOM: In one of the many e-mails home from the desert, in response to an e-mail from his daughters, David wrote, "We all have to make sacrifices, even you. Your sacrifice is that your dad is not around. But just remember, sweethearts, there are lots of other boys and girls whose mommies and daddies are over here, getting ready to fight for their country, risking their lives because that is their job. So when you're missing me, as I am missing you, remember to say a prayer for all those other boys and girls who are missing their mommies and daddies, too. And yes, my dear, sweet girls, when I'm a little bit scared, I promise you I will remember you and your mom, and I will know in my heart just how much you love me. To the moon and back, right? Love, Daddy."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: when the moment comes, I am determined that they will say he was devoted to his wife and children and he gave every ounce of his being not for himself, but for those whom he cared about most, God and his family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That was the funeral here in Manhattan, right?
BLOOM: That's right.
KING: That was David's brother?
KING: Tom Brokaw had a brilliant eulogy, and he told the story of a conversation David had with a family friend the night before he left for Kuwait City, right?
KING: Was that very moving to you? I can't take funerals!
BLOOM: No, I can't, either. Yes, I was so moved by Tom's eulogy and was so touched by it and...
KING: Tell me about this e-mail.
BLOOM: Well, we're very blessed in that we have communications from David from the desert. And he e-mailed as much as he could, and our girls would e-mail David, as well, and -- but our 3-year-old couldn't type, so she would dictate to me and I would type her words and then shoot it off to Dave, so he could...
KING: Was this the last thing she sent to him?
BLOOM: This is the last e-mail that she sent him directly and...
KING: This is the 3-year-old dictating this.
BLOOM: She was 3 at the time, dictating, and stream of consciousness. I won't go through all of the, Do you like red balloons, and things like that. But at the very end of her e-mail, she wrote, "Bye, and I love you and I hope you'll be back. And I hope you love your computer, and I hope you love me, and I hope you love the beautiful candle. And I hope you will not die. Love, Ava (ph)."
And when she dictated that to me, my hands literally froze over the keys. I don't know where that last line came from.
KING: Did you ask her?
BLOOM: No, I didn't. I actually debated whether to even type that on and send it off because I knew Dave -- you know, that would be hard to read from his little girl. But I also thought it was important for him to know what -- you know, what effect this was having at home and on his children and what her little fears were. And you know...
KING: Can we have David's last e-mail?
BLOOM: And then David responded back to -- well, his last e-mail directly to Ava in response to that. And he writes, "Oh, my dear, sweet Ava. My heart just aches and tears well up in my eyes when I think about you worrying about me. I'm safe, my little princess, and I will be back home to love and care for you, to read you stories at night and make you breakfast in the morning, to walk you with in the woods and to swing and slide with you on the jungle gym in the back yard. I don't know yet when I'm coming home, Ava. I love you all the way to the moon and back. And I can't wait for us to hug each other and squeeze each other tight and hold onto each other forever. All my love, Daddy."
And this is bittersweet. This was written four days before his death.
KING: Was Ava at the funeral?
BLOOM: Ava did attend the funeral, yes.
KING: Wasn't it a little hard for...
BLOOM: It was. And at one point, a friend sort of took her out into a back room, but the twins stayed by my side and sat through the whole thing.
KING: His last e-mail to you, he said, `'Here I am, supposedly at the peak of professional success. I could frankly care less. I'm proud of the good job we're all doing, but in the scheme of things, this matters little compared to my relationship with you, the girls and Jesus. When the moment comes in my life when you are talking about my last days, I'm determined that you and others will say he was devoted to his wife and children, he was admired, he gave every ounce of his being for those whom he cared about, not about himself but God and his family." And he quoted his older brother, John (ph), at a memorial service -- that e-mail was quoted by John, right, at a...
BLOOM: Yes, that's right.
KING: Was that a little, like, premonition? BLOOM: Well, it was eerily prophetic. That e-mail was sent and -- written and sent on the day that he would die. And so I thought about that -- and I don't know. I don't think, consciously, he thought he was going to die, by any means. But almost, there was a subconscious premonition of some sort. Something prompted him to write those words.
KING: Did he know anything was wrong with him?
BLOOM: Well, you know, two nights before he passed away, on one of his phone calls home, he mentioned that he was sleeping outside on top of the tank, under the sky in the Iraqi desert. And he was whispering. And I said, David, you're scaring me. Why are you whispering? He said, Well, we're on the Baghdad border, and we have to keep lights low and voices down because of the risk of ambush. And I said, Well, get back into the tent, where it's safe. He said, You know, I've been sleeping with my knees pulled up to my chin every night. I just have to stretch out. I have these leg cramps. And then he moved on, you know, to another topic.
Had I known then what I know now, that was a warning sign, a huge warning sign of DVT, of a deep vein thrombosis, and he would be dead two days later. So it's hard to think back on that conversation and not have the warning bells go off when he mentioned the cramps. It seemed reasonable. I mean, all the crew and the soldiers had aches and pains. They were miserable, you know, in the middle of the desert.
KING: A lot of people say, I have cramps when they sit in an unusual position.
BLOOM: Sure. Sure. So it just seemed reasonable. We did not know. But I do now know what some of the risk factors are for DVT.
KING: Some people, when somebody dies, put it away and -- you know, they die, and go on with their lives. What got you so involved in deep vein thrombosis? It would have been very understandable if you said, I don't want to even deal with it.
BLOOM: Right. And I didn't deal with it for a while. It took me a while for me to really come to the realization that I'm sort of sitting on some information here, you know, that -- like I mentioned, more lives annually than AIDS and breast cancer combined, yet how do people not know about this? And could I help, you know, by telling my story or David's story?
And it became clear to me that this could be a very positive thing to do and sort of redirect my own grief and frustration and loss into something positive to help others. I think that's the great healer, is to reach out and try to help other people. And I think it actually sets a good example for the children, too. You know, we can be proactive. We can help make a difference in other people's lives. DVT is preventable. And if people know if they're at risk, know what the warnings signs and symptoms are, they can live. And so my goal is just to put the story out there and hope that people pay attention.
KING: How did you get started on the learning process? How did this organization begin?
BLOOM: Yes. Interestingly enough, the organization formed, just coincidentally, a month or two before David passed away. Of course, I did not know that at the time. I wish I had known.
KING: So it's a new organization but an old disease, right?
BLOOM: Yes. Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, in America, two million people develop a DVT annually. Out of that, 600,000 develop into pulmonary embolism, as in David's case. From those 600,000, 200,000 people will die. David was one of those 200,000.
KING: Those who don't die, don't die why?
BLOOM: Oh, well, I think that's a great question for Dr. Machato.
KING: We'll ask the doctor.
BLOOM: I don't want to try to get into...
KING: ... 400,000 live and 200,000 die...
BLOOM: That's right.
KING: ... has to be...
BLOOM: Well, I hope...
KING: What did you do...
BLOOM: ... preventive measures...
KING: ... to enmesh yourself in this?
BLOOM: What do I do to enmesh myself?
KING: What did you -- how did you -- where did you start?
BLOOM: Well, I partnered in with the Coalition to Prevent DVT, which, you know, I'm serving as their national spokesperson. I put together a public service announcement, and doing things like this, speaking to you and other media outlets. And we did do some congressional outreach, and I'm happy to say that a Senate resolution was passed on Capitol Hill last week declaring March National DVT Awareness Month. So that helps to get a little political muscle, you know, behind getting the word out about this. And we have a ribbon.
KING: Let's see it.
BLOOM: Right. So...
KING: And the word is to get what, more research money? BLOOM: To raise awareness within the medical community and with consumers. So in fact, there's a Web site, preventdvt.org, that has a risk assessment tool, so people can actually go on, find out if they're at risk and then know whether or not they should be speaking to their doctor about preventive measures that may save their life.
KING: We'll get more on how you prevent when the doctor joins us.
We'll be right back with Melanie Bloom right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
D. BLOOM: I haven't taken the chance to say hi. So hello, Melanie. Hello, Christine (ph). Hello, Nicole (ph). Hello, Ava. And I want to say happy birthday to my twins, Christine and Nicole, who were 9 on Sunday.
You know that you'd rather, in some ways, be sitting back at home with your wife and kids, but that's not the mission that we've got right now. And so we accept that risk in order to bring this story back home to the American people, which I, for one, and I know everything at NBC News, believes is a risk worth taking because this is something that is worthwhile to the people back home to see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: You're nodding your head. You're proud he did what he did?
BLOOM: Well, it's hearing his voice.
BLOOM: He had such a voice. Yes, I am proud of what he did. I really am. I too, would have preferred that he was home, you know, with the kids...
BLOOM: ... and with me, but I understood how important this was to him, and so I was proud of his -- you know, of his work.
KING: Did he like doing foreign reporting? Did he like -- some -- you know, war coverage is a unique breed of cat.
BLOOM: Yes, that's right, and he did, actually. He had covered Somalia, Bosnia, spent time in Haiti, Cuba, Colombia. Wherever the hot spots were, David wanted to be there. And yes, I think he had, you know, a real passion for that and didn't mind the risks and... KING: So might an anchor's chair have bogged him down?
BLOOM: Well, you know, he was anchoring -- co-anchoring the weekend "Today" show, so it was an interesting juxtaposition. He could wear many hats. You know, he could be doing cotton candy on the "Today" show and then be out in the middle of, you know, a battlefield. And I think he was multi-talented that way. But no, I think it would depend on the anchor chair. I think, you know, he...
KING: NBC's would have fit.
BLOOM: Well, you know, maybe that's the pinnacle in every journalist's, you know, pursuit and career.
KING: He mentions Jesus a lot. He was very religious?
BLOOM: David was deeply spiritual, yes. And certainly, the experience over there, witnessing the death and destruction around him and -- you know, I think it had a tremendous impact on him spiritually and really sort of crystallized what was important in his life at that time.
KING: Did he go to mass?
BLOOM: He did. He did religiously.
KING: Were you -- are you Catholic?
BLOOM: Yes. Yes, we are, and...
KING: So you went together.
BLOOM: We did, as much as we could, yes, with his busy schedule.
KING: Did he ever doubt his faith?
BLOOM: I think everyone -- yes, there's an ebb and a flow and...
KING: Did you, when he died?
BLOOM: Sure. Yes. I mean, it kind of rocks your foundation when something like this happens, but I think because of my faith, I could pull through. So -- but yes, I mean, it was difficult.
KING: Because you don't have an answer, right?
KING: I mean, you don't get that answer.
BLOOM: You don't get any answers, so...
KING: When David made that big move from Miami to the big time, how did that happen?
BLOOM: Well, when he was working in Miami, he was traveling and covering some of the big stories and would then sort of pitch them or feed them to the network. And so there was a segue there from local reporter to network reporting, and that led us to Chicago, and from there, Los Angeles for the infamous O.J. Simpson trial. And then he went on the campaign trail for a year and really got the bug for politics and ended up as the White House correspondent in Washington, D.C.
KING: He guested with us when he was White House correspondent and when he -- at the O.J. trial.
BLOOM: For the O.J. trial.
KING: He was a regular at the O.J. trial. He was...
BLOOM: Oh, yes.
KING: That was...
KING: ... good duty. Got him a lot of attention. What was his first NBC assignment?
BLOOM: Oh, his first NBC assignment?
KING: Do you remember?
BLOOM: Gosh. Well...
KING: Had to be a thrill, to go from local to network.
BLOOM: Well, I think Hurricane Andrew, actually, when we were still living in Miami. That was a big one, and I know a lot of his coverage, you know, made it on the national airwaves. So I would say Hurricane Andrew. He was in the Jeep to go over the hill and look at the destruction in Homestead and call back and...
KING: It wiped out Homestead.
BLOOM: Wiped out Homestead. And you know, he, of course, was driving around all night during the middle of this hurricane with his photographer. So they actually went over the hill and saw Homestead and radioed back to get choppers and everyone to come out, you know, at the crack of dawn.
KING: Other than what you're doing, what's life like for you?
BLOOM: Well, it's busy.
KING: Where are you living?
BLOOM: We still live in Westchester, and the girls are still going to their great school. And we have terrific friends and family who have really stepped in and helped. You know, we're learn willing to live with this void and live around the pain that is just always under the surface. So I'm very busy, you know, raising the three girls and then focusing my attentions on them and also on the work I'm doing for the Coalition to Prevent DVT.
KING: Are you socializing yet?
BLOOM: Well, I -- with my friends, absolutely, friends and family.
KING: No dating yet, though.
BLOOM: Not yet.
KING: Too soon?
BLOOM: Well, I think so. I mean, I haven't thought about it much. I've been really busy and really focusing my attention on the girls and on this mission with DVT.
KING: It's doubly hard when someone is as impacting as he was, right? I mean, you don't run into David Blooms every day.
BLOOM: No, I don't think you do. But I haven't really given it that much thought.
KING: Are his parents living?
BLOOM: Oh, yes. Yes.
KING: How have they dealt with this?
BLOOM: They've been very strong. That was their firstborn of three sons. And again, it's shattering, but then they have strength and they've pulled it together. And they're there for the grandchildren, and they're doing well, I think, as well as anyone can do, given this set of circumstances.
KING: Is it hard for you to watch television?
BLOOM: Yes, it is, actually. It is, actually. This summer, especially, with the conventions and -- I had attended the conventions four years ago with David, and the Olympics. We had covered -- David covered the Olympics in Australia, and then watching Olympics in Greece. He was supposed to be there covering it. And it is hard to see some of the big world events take place and not see David there doing it, you know? And I miss him on -- you know, doing his job, as well as at home being husband and father, so...
KING: Oh, you must say to yourself, What would David have said?
KING: How -- what unique touch would he have brought to this story?
KING: Is there a formula for dealing with death? BLOOM: Boy, I wish there were, and I would try to follow it. But it is a process. It's true that there are stages, and everybody works through it in their own way and at their own time, so...
KING: In other words, you can't tell someone what to do.
BLOOM: You can't. It's organic. You know, it unfolds the way it will unfold. And you know, in my case, I again was surrounded by the support of good family and good friends, and the girls, really. I derive a lot of strength from those three girls. You know, they -- they look like their daddy. They have his spirit, and that's very comforting. And they've really helped me pull through it, and I try to turn around and help them.
KING: Do family members stay with us a lot?
BLOOM: Yes, yes, initially.
KING: You still hear from people at NBC?
BLOOM: Oh, absolutely, yes. We have good friends at NBC.
KING: He struggled with a relationship with Bob Woodruff of ABC.
BLOOM: We did.
KING: And you met him, right?
BLOOM: Who, Bob?
KING: Did you meet?
BLOOM: Yes. We're sort of best family friends. And that goes back to D.C. We actually met at a roast for you, Larry King.
KING: Spinal Bifida Roast.
BLOOM: That's it.
We met that night. And found out we were sort of leading parallel lives. Bob and Dave, sort of same age, same career path, and Leigh and I were sort of the behind the scenes, raising the children. She has twins, I have twins. So they were sort of dopplegangers to us. And we really forged a close friendship.
In fact, she got the call that night. Bob was embedded with the Marines at the same time that Dave was embedded with the 3rd I.D. And Lee was sort of dispatched to my house during the night that it all happened. And she was by my side through it all. So, we're very blessed to have them in our lives.
KING: We'll take a break. And when we come back, Dr. Franklin Michota will join us. And we'll talk more about deep vein thrombosis, which killed over 200,000 people last year. Don't go away.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Also moving with the 3rd infantry division was David Bloom. His own last e-mail home tells us something else about this man who was about to turn 40. He wrote to his wife Melanie, "here I am, supposedly at the peak of professional success, and I could frankly care less. Yes, I'm proud of the good job we have all been doing, but in the scheme of things, it matters little compared to my relationship with you, the girls and Jesus."
It says something about a man's entire life when those are his final thoughts. For those words and for so much else in David's life, we are grateful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back. Our special guest is Melanie Bloom, the widow of David Bloom, an NBC correspondent, anchor of "Weekend Today." She is the national spokesperson for the Coalition to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis, DVT. They're at preventdvt.org for further information.
Joining us now is Doctor Franklin Michota. He is head of the section of hospital medicine at the famed Cleveland Clinic Foundation. He's associate professor of medicine at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. And he's a member of the steering committee and the medical advisory board for the Coalition to Prevent DVT. A specialist in this, cardiologist doctor?
DR. FRANKLIN MICHOTA, CLEVELAND CLINIC FOUNDATION: Well, actually I'm a hospitalist.
KING: A what?
MICHOTA: A hospitalist.
KING: A hospitalist?
MICHOTA: A hospitalist, yes.
KING: What is that?
MICHOTA: It's a medical doctor who focuses on the general medical care of a hospitalized patient.
KING: Have you ever heard of a hospitalist? I've never heard of that. So, you're based in the Cleveland Clinic?
MICHOTA: Yes, I am. But there are hospitalists all over the country. But our goal is to focus on the general care of someone who is in the hospital.
KING: Is it a new specialty?
MICHOTA: Well, it's something that's growing. We're part of an organization called the Society of Hospital Medicine, which is the fastest-growing medical society in the history of medicine.
KING: A lot of people get sick in hospitals, right?
MICHOTA: Well, we're very concerned about patient safety.
KING: I'll get back to that.
First, before we talk about DVT, tell me about -- you're not a cardiologist, what you know of what President Clinton faces tomorrow?
MICHOTA: Well, you know, he has a complication from open-heart surgery. It's not a common complication, but you do see this water on the lung. And unfortunately after this type of surgery, it mixes with blood, and it can create a scar tissue around the lung, which prevents it from getting adequate oxygen and so forth. So it can make you tired, which is what I think we're seeing with him.
KING: I was just at the American College of Cardiology Convention in Orlando that the president's award -- which I was thrilled about -- they told me that the problem he is going to have is not that this is life threatening, but it's going to be very painful?
MICHOTA: Well, the procedure itself, if he wasn't give adequate pain medication, it would hurt.
KING: But following it, he's going to be in a lot of pain.
MICHOTA: Well, what they're doing is that they're basically peeling away scar tissue from the lung. And it's very irritating. And yes, I would agree with you, that during his recovery phase, I suspect he'll be asking for pain medication, yes.
KING: What got you interested in this disease, deep vein thrombosis?
MICHOTA: Well, as a hospitalist, this is what I see in the hospital a lot.
KING: A lot.
MICHOTA: As you look at DVT, and you look at DVT and P.E. together, 1 out of 10 people who die in hospitals die from something that's directly attributable to P.E.
KING: PE meaning?
MICHOTA: Pulmonary emboli (ph).
And right now in the hospital, there's an eightfold higher risk of developing a DVT in the hospital compared to people in the community.
KING: What killed David?
MICHOTA: Well, he did. He had a large pulmonary emboli.
KING: That mean, he had the DVT, right? He had the deep valve problems. And then what occurred that would kill him?
MICHOTA: Well, DVT is a large clot that in a vein usually in the legs, and a pulmonary embolism can occur when part or all of this clot breaks free, travels to the lung and can block the pulmonary arteries or its branches.
KING: You die right away?
MICHOTA: 25 percent of the time you do.
KING: In David, it was instant?
BLOOM: I understand it was quite abrupt, yes. That he collapsed.
KING: And no pain?
MICHOTA: No, we don't believe there would have been pain, no.
KING: OK. What were the telltale signs? She mentioned that he told her about cramping?
MICHOTA: Yes. People who have DVT will experience pain, swelling, maybe discoloration of the leg. It's often described as a calf cramp that doesn't go away. In fact, it may be intermittent at first and then becomes progressive. But perhaps the scariest thing is half of the people who get DVT, they don't get any signs or symptoms. And the single first event is you can present dead from a PE.
KING: That's not preventable then.
MICHOTA: Well, that's what we're here to talk about, because there are risk factors, there are associations that we want people to be aware of. So, they include things such as cancer, obesity, advanced age, particularly people who are over the age of 60, current or recent hospitalization, either for medical illness or for surgery, trauma such as breaking your leg or broken hips, certain heart or lung disorders.
KING: None of them fit David Bloom.
MICHOTA: Well, in his case, one of the things that is also associated is immobility. And anything that restricts your mobility, whether you are recently in the hospital, whether you take long car trips, bus trips, airplane travel across the ocean and so forth.
KING: Sleep in a tank with your knees folded.
MICHOTA: Right, right, absolutely.
BLOOM: And some other risk-factors in David's case too: he had been making the long-haul flights back and forth leading up to the war, and then also dehydration came into play. The water supplies in the front lines were dwindling. And he was somewhat dehydrated. And then David also had a silent risk factor, which you can speak to, factor five liden (ph) is an inherited blood coagulant disorder that was only discovered after the autopsy was performed.
KING: His father had it?
BLOOM: Well, either his mother or father. He did inherit it from one of his parents.
KING: That's a blood coagulant?
BLOOM: It's a gene, yes. And so that was one more risk factor. And they say if you have three or more risk factors in play at any time, you are at risk for developing the blood clot which can lead to a fatal pulmonary...
KING: Male and female, any age.
MICHOTA: Both sexes are affected.
KING: More information, preventdvt.org. Back with more after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a poem that I wrote. And it's called, just too little. "I'm just too little to understand why my dad had to go. He was just my dad, not a TV star to me. He did not want fame, he just wanted me. I'm just too little to understand why he left me. I'm just too also to under why he had to die.
I understand that when I go to heaven, I will be safe forever. I say we should be nice all the time. I dream to go up to heaven and see my dad."
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Joining me now from NBC Tel Aviv Bureau is David Bloom -- David.
D. BLOOM: Tom, tonight Yasser Arafat is...
What the sheriff's department calls the first real break in this case...
The situation is not as bleak as it was six months ago.
Controversy over Detective Mark Fuhrman could take away...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is David Bloom first broke the story last night and joins us from the White House. David, exactly what...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Melanie Bloom and Dr. Franklin Michota of the Cleveland Clinic. Again, for more information, it's preventdvt.org.
How do you treat it?
MICHOTA: Well, blood thinner, or anicogulants. In fact...
KING: Like Coumadin or...
MICHOTA: Coumadin. Also low molecular weight Heparins or Heparins, are all effective strategies if you develop the DVT. Our goal, of course, is to prevent the first DVT from occurring. And it's the similar type of medications that would help prevent DVT.
KING: So, it is medication. Had David been on these medications, he probably would have lived.
MICHOTA: If he had been receiving those, yes, I believe he would have been.
KING: Did he regular checkups?
M. BLOOM: Well, you know, not regular. He was so healthy. He never got sick. And I don't know that they really screen for this as much, anyway, as they should, if you just go in for a regular checkup.
KING: Is there a screen -- is there a blood test for this.
MICHOTA: Well, in terms of inherited disorders of clotting, there are. But we would only test people if we thought that they had a family history of blood clotting.
KING: But he wouldn't have known that, right.
BLOOM: Right. That's -- yes, right, my point is that he just wouldn't have known to say, hey, by the way, check me for the risk of DVT. Which is what I'm trying to get the word out, so that people will take the information to the doctor and say could I be at risk DVT?
KING: So, as if -- what are these risk factors. What if you're in doubt?
MICHOTA: Well -- correct. And that long list of factors, such as being overweight and being over the age of 60. I mean, think about how many Americans just fit that segment right there. And you include all of the associated factors. We want people to know what DVT and what P.E., what it is. It is a common cause of hospitalized death that is largely preventable. And many people, many of your viewers, have these risk factors, we want them to talk to their doctor. And to say I have these risk factors, what should I be doing.
KING: Melanie told us about the 600,000 who have it, and 400 live, and 200 die. Those who die, die why?
MICHOTA: Because the clot is big enough to either cause enough problem with blood flow through the longs to the rest of the body, or if you think about a hospitalized patient who's already sick. They get hospitalized with pneumonia, where they otherwise have already pre-existing heart disease or lung disorder. And even a tiny clot than can be enough to tip it over to the point where they die.
KING: Is it curable?
MICHOTA: Well, we hope someday that we'll have enough information where outside of just knowing your risk factors, I will be able to do a blood test, say you're at higher risk, I'm going to treat you up-front. I'm going to give you medication and so forth.
KING: ... PSA for prostate cancer.
MICHOTA: That's our hope. That's our hope. But we're pretty far away from that. And we're talking about a disease state which comprises one of the nation's leading causes of death, and yet only 1 out of 4 Americans have even ever heard of what it is. We don't...
KING: You married into the news business, so it's a good bet David Bloom would not have know what we were talking about four or five years?
Had a guest like -- if the doctor were going on "The Today Show," someone would have had to tell them what this is?
BLOOM: I think, definitely. Yes, definitely. I had never heard of it until I got the call.
KING: And it's common.
BLOOM: And it's common. The statics are staggering. You know, and it's a women's health issue, also in that, women who are on the birth control pill or hormone replacement therapy or pregnant -- if pregnancy, all of those are contributing risk factors, as well. So, when you think about, it really cuts a wide swathe of people. People at any given time in their life could have several risk factors at play. And I think that where we're seeing these numbers. And so people do need to be aware.
MICHOTA: Well, another important thing, Larry, we did an epidemiologic study about a year and a half ago. And we learned, if people, who had symptomatic DVTs, that people waited a minimum of three days before they sought any help, because it's just a calf cramp. It doesn't -- it's such a common thing. But we want people to make that association. I'm 65, I'm overweight, I recently have been hospitalized.
KING: What doctor do you see?
MICHOTA: Well, any doctor. Any of your regular doctors...
KING: General doctors...
MICHOTA: Absolutely. Absolutely.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Melanie Bloom and Dr. Franklin Michota. We've learned a lot tonight, don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLOON: My husband was a dedicated journalist, and devoted father. I'm Melanie Bloom. While on assignment in Iraq, David died from complications related to deep vein thrombosis or DVT, a blood clot in the legs that may break loose, travel to the lungs and be fatal. The good news is, this silent killer can be prevented if you know the risk factors and warning signs. Understand your risk for DVT. Talk to your doctor and go to preventdvt.org. We didn't know about DVT, you should.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: It's ironic, isn't it, Melanie, that in death -- someone's death can help save others' lives?
BLOOM: That's right. Sometimes that's what it takes, unfortunately.
KING: His death may save some lives tonight.
BLOOM: I hope so.
KING: Just like people getting a check up.
BLOOM: Right. Right. And I hope so. You know, I would like to think his death was not in vain. And in fact, when he passed away, a lot of letters came, letters of support and sympathy from viewers. And one woman even wrote, we just saw this story about your husband on the news, and my husband has been complaining about a crick in his leg, and I said look what happened, you go in and get checked, and he did have a deep vein thrombosis. And she said, your husband saved my life. And that's within a week after David passed away.
KING: Doctor, my cardiologist tells me on long plane trips, every half hour walk the plane.
MICHOTA: Well, it increasing the circulation in legs. And if you're sitting for a period of time, you're going to pool blood in your legs, and that increases the chances of clotting. So, simply just doing foot exercises, getting up and walking, saying well hydrated, all of those things can minimize the risk of clotting.
KING: Does deep vein thrombosis, odds on, occur in the legs?
MICHOTA: Almost -- almost -- the ones that lead to these fatal pulmonary emboli, most of them are coming from the legs, as far as we know. But they can occur...
MICHOTA: But they can occur elsewhere, particularly, if you have an inherited clotting disorder, you might find clots in the arms or in the upper extremities. Or if you're a patient who has catheter. You know, our cancer patients, a lot of them we treat at home now, they get chemotherapy through catheters that may be enlarged, veins to the chest, and so we see clots develop there as well. But for the average viewer, we're looking at clots in the legs.
KING: And you know, the warning to women, Melanie, it sounds like a male thing. You know what I mean?
BLOOM: It does.
KING: Deep vein thrombosis.
KING: It sounds like it happens to a guy.
BLOOM: Yes. Yes, I thought about that, but you're right. It has that...
KING: It happens to women.
BLOOM: It absolutely happens to women. It is a women's health issue, as well -- it knows no gender. You know, it can affect anyone, any age, any time if they are at risk.
KING: Doctor, Melanie's been a big help, huh?
MICHOTA: Absolutely. In fact -- I'm, obviously, very pleased that she's here, because the Coalition to Prevent DVT, overall, we've established an awareness month, which we're currently in now.
MICHOTA: But somebody like Melanie Bloom telling the story of David, it's going to have tremendous impact.
KING: Thank you, doctor.
MICHOTA: Yes, thank you.
KING: Melanie, nothing but the best.
BLOOM: Thank you, Larry. Thanks a lot.
KING: More information, preventdvt.org -- preventdvt.org. If you fit any of the precursors see your doctor. I'll be back in a minute.
I've got a couple of words to say, and tell you about tomorrow night, don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
D. BLOOM: What we decided was, that we needed to find a way to be able to be with this tank brigade, which was not going to stop, which was going to keep roll for days at a time. And thus we needed the ability to be able to broadcast as we're rolling.
And obviously, I could be more precise about the numbers, but they don't want us to say precisely where we are.
They cannot come in and reinforce those existing Republican Guards divisions to the south of Baghdad, but they've been severely.
For now I'm David Bloom with the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division, back to you -- Tom.
KING: Tomorrow night a look at the situation involving former President Clinton, a major panel will be assembled. We want to congratulate Bob Schieffer, my good friend, the TCU School of Communication has been named after him. We couldn't make it down there to Texas this week because of a sinus condition. And Bob takes over the "CBS Evening News" tomorrow night. And at the same time, our best wishes to Dan Rather, an old friend of this show, a frequent guest, a great guy, who has set a unique place in American broadcasting history. Good luck to Dan. Good luck to Bob.
Now a sad note, Harold Brooks Baker, the publishers director of Burke's Peerage, a frequent guest on this show, died this past Saturday. He was 71. Brookie, as he was known, had a lifelong interest in monarchy. He took part in many of our panels on the British royals. Harold Brooks Baker will be missed. Our thoughts go out to his wife Catherine and his family.
Aaron Brown and "NEWSNIGHT" is next. Good night.
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