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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Larry King Interviews Melanie Bloom
Aired March 8, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID BLOOM, JOURNALIST: Well, they don't want us to say precisely where we are in south central Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, she lost her husband David Bloom, a rising network news star who died suddenly and shockingly in Iraq. And, nearly three years later another blow, their good friend ABC News Anchor Bob Woodruff seriously wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq.
Now, David Bloom's widow, Melanie Bloom, speaks out on the little known medical condition that killed him and threatens hundreds of thousands more and how Bob Woodruff and his wife are doing too, all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
It's a great pleasure to welcome a return visit from Melanie Bloom to LARRY KING LIVE, looking as lovely as ever, the widow of David Bloom, the NBC News correspondent and anchor of "Weekend Today."
She is the national spokesperson for the Coalition to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis. It's called DVT. She's also a good friend of the wounded ABC News man Bob Woodruff and his wife Lee. By the way, Melanie works for that coalition which is funded by the pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis. How are you doing?
MELANIE BLOOM: I'm doing well, Larry, thanks, good to see you again.
KING: Does it seem like three years?
BLOOM: No, it doesn't. The time has just flown by. I cannot believe we're coming up on the three-year anniversary of David's death.
KING: Yes, April.
BLOOM: Right, April 6th.
KING: How are the children?
BLOOM: The children are doing really well, you know. I'm very happy to say that time helps and they have their daddy's spirit inside of them and we have found a way to live around the void in our life and seek joy.
KING: They're how old now? BLOOM: The twins are eleven years old in sixth grade and the little one is six years old in Kindergarten.
KING: Still live in the same house?
BLOOM: We are in a different house about a half a mile down the road from our other house, so we stayed in the same town.
KING: Why? Why the decision to move?
BLOOM: Well, just it made sense to sort of, you know, move on and start anew in some ways, you know and just, I don't know, pare down, cozy up.
KING: Was the network good to you?
BLOOM: Oh, so good and still are. We have such good friends with the NBC family. We still feel like part of the family.
KING: And now you're very involved with this. Well tell me all about your involvement.
BLOOM: Right. I'm working as the national spokesman and patient advocate for the Coalition to Prevent DVT. And, as you know from the last time I was on, DVT is deep vein thrombosis or a blood clot in the leg that can break away, become a pulmonary embolism, travel to the lungs and be fatal, as in David's case.
So, I've been really working on raising awareness about DVT since losing David because I had never heard of DVT when I got the call about David and learned after the fact that it impacts so many people. More deaths are caused by this annually than AIDS and breast cancer combined.
KING: You can live with it though too right?
BLOOM: Oh, absolutely, yes. Two million Americans annually will develop a blood clot or DVT and out of that 600,000 go on to develop a pulmonary embolism and out of that number 200,000 will die.
KING: Did he get -- did he die because of where he was?
BLOOM: You know...
KING: Cramped in, in a small place?
BLOOM: Right, the conditions he was enduring while embedded with the 3rd ID certainly contributed to his death absolutely. Some of the risk factors that David had at play were the long haul flights to and from Kuwait and New York, dehydration because the supply lines were dwindling along the front lines of the battlefield.
And then the cramped quarters, he was sleeping with his knees tucked up to his chin day in, day out, you know for weeks on end and that restricted mobility decreases the blood flow and circulation in the legs. All of those three risk factors combined and then after his death the autopsy showed that he had Factor V Liden, which is an inherited blood coagulant disorder. It's a gene that was discovered upon doing the autopsy that we did not know about. So, he had four risk factors at play that contributed to his death.
KING: Did he know any of this?
BLOOM: No. No, not a thing nor did I. He had called two nights before he died complaining of -- not even complaining. He never complained but he mentioned leg cramps. He was whispering into the phone which scared me because he was covering a war and I said "Why are you whispering?"
And he said, you know, "I'm sleeping on top of the tank tonight. I'm laying on the fender looking up at the stars over the Baghdad sky, the desert sky and I have to whisper because of the possibility of ambush but my legs have been cramping up so I just had to get out and stretch my legs.
And I said, "Well, I think you should be back in the tank where it's safe, David, you know with the Baghdad border very near." But, in reality, that was a huge warning sign that something was terribly wrong. He would die two days later.
KING: But the term cramp you hear it all the time right? I'm sure you didn't hang up the phone that night saying boy he's in peril.
BLOOM: Not at all nor did he present it to me that way. I mean it just was, you know, something he mentioned. It seemed so innocuous. I mean who didn't have aches and pains in the conditions they were in and people, you know, who have a little twitch or a cramp in their leg don't immediately assume, oh, it could be a fatal pulmonary embolism. You know it could be a DVT but it could.
KING: Did he die right there in the tank?
BLOOM: Not in the tank. So, two days later he woke up in the morning, again after having slept in that cramped position and what I understand is he collapsed, you know, onto the desert floor and they rushed and attempted to save him but it was too late. It happened very, very suddenly.
KING: So, he never revived?
KING: What killed him?
BLOOM: Well, a pulmonary embolism which in essence...
KING: That went to the...
BLOOM: Yes, it's when the blood clot itself or a piece of it breaks free, travels to the lungs and then prevents oxygen, you know, getting to the lungs and supplying the lungs with oxygen. So, when it happens, it can happen very, very suddenly.
And, actually David was one of the lucky ones because 50 percent of the time there are no warning signs or symptoms of a DVT. David had the leg cramps. A lot of people don't.
KING: What could he have done?
BLOOM: You know, knowing ahead of time that he cold be in a situation that is risky for him, certainly knowing whether he had Factor V Liden, if he had ever heard of that DVT and understood "I've been on long haul flights. I'm going to have restricted mobility."
And that could be a sports injury that lays someone up on a weekend or a long car ride, you know. It doesn't have to be a tank, you know, covering a war in the desert. It can affect anyone at any time with these risk factors at play. So, there could have been preventive measures certainly in David's case and we didn't know about it or had never heard about it.
KING: What got you involved? I mean you didn't have to get involved.
BLOOM: Absolutely right. You know, when I learned more about it and understood that it takes more lives than AIDS and breast cancer combined annually but nobody's heard of it I thought "How is this possible?" You know I felt like I was sitting on some very important information.
KING: Takes more lives than what?
BLOOM: Than AIDS and breast cancer combined annually in America and yet everybody knows...
KING: You're kidding me?
BLOOM: I'm not kidding, no, and everybody knows about the importance of, you know, checking for breast cancer and certainly AIDS but nobody knows about DVT. A study was done showing 74 percent of Americans have never heard of DVT.
KING: Is there another word for it? I mean is it called an aneurysm?
BLOOM: No, no.
BLOOM: People usually are familiar with the term blood clot, OK, but that didn't help me at all when I got that call. It seemed so nebulous what blood clot?
KING: So you got involved because?
BLOOM: To raise awareness, to share my story with other people in the hopes that people will pay attention, learn more about DVT, talk to their doctors, find out if they're at risk and maybe live a life.
KING: Are there drugs that treat it? BLOOM: There are drugs. There are compression stockings. There are so many preventive measures.
KING: Is there an 800 number or a...
BLOOM: You know, we have a great website, the Coalition to Prevent DVT has a website called preventdvt.org and on there there's a risk assessment tool that people can do to see if they fall in the risk category.
BLOOM: Dot org, right.
KING: We'll be right back with Melanie Bloom. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
D. BLOOM: Of the three divisions that Iraq has in terms of the Republican Guard in the south of Baghdad, two of them are heavily armored divisions and those two heavily armored divisions we're told by U.S. military intelligence officials had been degraded to the point that one of them is now at about one-third of its original capacity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
D. BLOOM: I think the response has been dramatically positive to our presence here. Look, we didn't want to do this coverage where the only thing that the American people saw back home was the precision photography of a bomb hitting a target.
BOB WOODRUFF: We're on patrol with Iraq's 9th Division. There's only one mechanized division in the entire Iraqi army. They say that the insurgents are particularly afraid of this group. They patrol up and down the main corridor north of Baghdad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Melanie Bloom. We'll get back to DVT and, in fact, have a major panel on it in the second half of the program.
Let's talk about Bob Woodruff. Bob Woodruff and David were good pals and I know where they met. Of course, they met at my roast.
BLOOM: That's right.
KING: I got roasted by Spina Bifida, Judy Woodruff's organization in Washington, D.C. It was a major night and that's where both of them told me they met each other.
BLOOM: And we were there, Lee and I, the wives were there too. We were all seated together at a table together. That's the first time we met.
KING: That was a fun night.
BLOOM: It was a fun night. It's fun watching you get roasted, Larry.
KING: Did you all get along right away?
BLOOM: Instantly. I mean there was just this instant connection. We felt like we'd known each other forever. We certainly had led parallel lives. David and Bob were very, very similar, had similar career paths and jobs.
KING: And (INAUDIBLE).
BLOOM: Ages and children and Lee and I are very similar in many ways. And, it was nice to meet somebody who understood sort of, you know, the unique -- it's unique being married to someone like this who goes to Bosnia and, you know, Somalia and Iraq and places like this and the time spent alone. And, it was really great to meet somebody who understood that and to click the way that we clicked.
KING: There's something very different about them, these people who go to war.
BLOOM: Yes. I think so. I think...
KING: They're not normal reporters.
BLOOM: Right. No, I think that's true and I think this world needs more David Blooms and Bob Woodruffs because they have a passion for what they do and they endanger their own lives to bring the reality of war home to the American people to tell the soldiers' story. You know I just think -- I'm very proud of their dedication and contribution to journalism.
KING: How is Bob doing?
BLOOM: Bob's doing really well. He is improving every day and...
KING: Have you been to see him?
BLOOM: See him? You know I traveled with Lee to Landstuhl, Germany when he first arrived there and that was a long flight together. We were, you know, I was terrified and so was Lee and I squeezed her hand the whole way and we were -- we felt so happy that Bob and his photographer Doug Vogt survived and are both healing and mending and doing so, so well now.
KING: But there seems to be not a great deal of information so help us. How bad was it?
BLOOM: Well, it was a serious injury.
KING: To where the head?
BLOOM: Head, shoulders that area and it's going to take time and I... KING: Because?
BLOOM: These types of injuries do. You know, he just needs, we need patience. We're in the instant gratification nation. We want everything to just be OK right now and it will be OK but we just need to give them time.
And I know what it was like, you know, when I lost David and sort of that public aspect of it is hard and I just think, you know, they've been quiet because the family wants to rally around and really focus their attentions and energies on helping him heal.
KING: Can he communicate?
BLOOM: Well, you know, he can and, in fact, if you'll allow me Lee just put this e-mail out yesterday and I'll just use her own, her very own words.
BLOOM: So Lee writes: "Good news, Bob has reached some important milestones this week. We are so encouraged by all of the things he's doing from hugging and kissing to communicating with us. His physical strength remains impressive and the doctors are so encouraged by the progress he has made."
And she goes on to say, I love this line, "And, I can report that he is approaching his recovery the same way that he approaches his life with a huge appetite to do it right, to overcome any obstacles and to bring home the story." So, things are looking good.
KING: Is he home?
BLOOM: He's not home, no. He's still in Bethesda Naval Hospital and, you know, again it's going to take a little time but he is on the mend.
KING: That's great to hear.
BLOOM: It is great.
KING: Is it expected then that he will work again?
BLOOM: Absolutely. We anticipate a full recovery and have every reason to be very optimistic for a full recovery.
KING: How's his wife handling it?
BLOOM: Lee is the strongest person I know.
KING: That's obviously very optimistic.
BLOOM: And she is an optimistic person and she has so much strength. She was my rock when I lost David and I'm trying to be her rock but she's so very strong and has been handling this with, you know, to have four children and she's handling it all with grace and strength and...
KING: What was the first thing you thought and did when you heard about Bob Woodruff?
BLOOM: Well, I thought I was having a nightmare because the call woke me up early in the morning that Sunday and...
KING: Who called?
BLOOM: A friend in the business called. Lee was traveling at the time and I happened to know where she was and what hotel she was staying in with her children because they couldn't reach her. And, the irony is that she got the call about David three years ago and was the one who put NBC in touch with me and then here...
KING: No kidding?
BLOOM: Yes, and then here I get the call about Bob and put her in touch with ABC. They were trying to reach her.
KING: That is really weird.
BLOOM: It is. It is, the irony. So, but when I woke up to that phone call I just really thought I was having some kind of a bad nightmare and then when they mentioned Bob, you know, I woke up quickly and realized this is happening, you know, and it was terrifying.
KING: Were you very scared when you first saw him in Germany?
BLOOM: You know, I was so relieved and grateful that he -- that he was alive, he and his photographer had survived because, you know, certainly that tapped into a lot of fear and a lot of emotions I had, you know, with David's experience.
KING: Did you expect the worst?
BLOOM: No, I try not to be -- I tried to be very optimistic. I was fearful but when we got there and we saw there's Bob and he's OK, he made it, that's all I needed. Where there's life there's hope.
KING: How's the photographer doing?
BLOOM: He's doing very well, in fact I...
BLOOM: Doug Vogt and I know he has been released and I think is now back in France with his wife and children.
KING: Oh, so he recovered faster.
BLOOM: Yes, yes.
KING: Our guest is Melanie Bloom and we'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: There's something Peter said to me many times over the years is "Be careful about wanting to go into a position like this of anchoring because it's going to take away from what is really the greatest things you want to do...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Reporting.
WOODRUFF: ...which is reporting out in the field," and he -- it was his favorite thing to do and I think it was always a regret that he was not able to get out more as well. So, in that sense, this is the best of all worlds, going to be able to anchor and we'll be able to get out on the big stories when they break.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLOOM: In response to an e-mail from his daughters, David wrote: "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 and because they believe it is the right thing to do. 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Our guest is Melanie Bloom. Again if you want more information and you can learn a lot you got preventdvt.org. What happens when you check in to the website?
BLOOM: When you log in there is a wealth of resources on there, the risk assessment tool that I mentioned so people can assess their own risk for DVT, resources where to go, who to talk to, lots of information.
KING: Is there a checkup that you can go to your doctor and say "Am I going to get DVT"?
BLOOM: Well that's a good question. There isn't a DVT doctor per se but it affects all aspects of the medical community. It's a women's issue in that women who are on the pill or hormone replacement therapy or are pregnant they're at greater risk.
It affects, you know, age is a factor. Obesity is a factor. Again, the restricted mobility, so it really covers a large gamut. I think it's great to go on the website and just tick off the different risk categories and check off whether or not -- if you have three or more you should go to your doctor definitely and say, you know, "I took this risk assessment tool. I have three or plus, you know, risk factors. Talk to me about DVT. What can I do? What are preventive steps or should I even be worried about this?" KING: David and Bob Woodruff talked to each other a lot didn't they?
BLOOM: Oh, yes.
KING: Before going overseas they confided in each other right?
BLOOM: They did. They did. In fact, it's interesting David had tried to call Bob on the Friday night. David passed away on a Saturday night. He had tried to reach Bob.
Bob was embedded also with the Marines in a different area and when he couldn't be patched through to him by the satellite phone, Dave left a message for Bob saying, "Hey, just want to tell you, you know, love you, keep your head down" and that was the last message that Bob got from David and then Bob got the news about David the next day, so you know it...
KING: What's been your recovery mode?
BLOOM: My recovery mode, well it's been very cathartic to do this work. You know one thing I think taking grief and trying to transform it into something positive, helping others is a great healer and it's really been good for our girls too because they can see that life does go on and reaching out and trying to help others is a way to heal and to move forward.
So, really very gratifying, the work that we've done has reached so many people. Tens of thousands of people have tapped into this website and 10,000 personal letters have been submitted saying, you know, "I saw you on Larry King or read this article. I have something in my leg, got help. It turns out I had a DVT or a pulmonary embolism."
And so it's been so very gratifying to know. When I started all of this because this is not easy coming on air and speaking like this, this was David's forte not mine, but I told myself if I can save one life or if David's story can touch one person and they don't die, then it's all worth it and David did not die in vain. And I really feel like we've reached thousands of people and so (INADUIBLE).
KING: That's a great help for you.
BLOOM: Yes, absolutely, absolutely because it can be prevented. People can reduce their risk for this if they just know and, you know, David could be alive today if we had known what we know now.
KING: Knowledge is golden.
BLOOM: Yes, absolutely.
KING: Do you have his picture all over the house? Do you try to keep the memory alive or not?
BLOOM: Keep the memory alive absolutely but not overdo it, you know. We have several photos that were always up in the house of David and a few more added to that but not -- I didn't want it to be a shrine like effect, you know, constant memory of that pain. I wanted it to be more of a positive thing and he's just a part of our life and the fabric of our being.
But our girls miss him every day. We talk about him a lot. He had such an infectious spirit and zest for life and a passion and that is reflected in the girls' little faces.
KING: What was his goal at NBC?
BLOOM: Well, I think, you know, he was aspiring to the top in everything David did.
KING: And he wanted to anchor or he wanted...
BLOOM: Sure, oh sure absolutely. He would have loved that and, you know, I think...
KING: For the "Today Show"?
BLOOM: He was doing weekend "Today Show."
KING: I know.
BLOOM: Yes, and I think he would have enjoyed, yes, the weekly "Today Show," the anchor chair. I think, you know, that's much like Bob, you know. He aspired, he has those same dreams and aspirations and a lot to back it up. You know he had great skills in the world of journalism.
KING: You must have felt very good when Bob got the co-anchor?
BLOOM: Thrilled, thrilled.
KING: For NBC.
BLOOM: Couldn't be happier. In fact, we celebrated together when we got the news and I know, I just believe David knows and is smiling down at his buddy for getting that job. So, even though they were great friends they were competitors too and I just think it's great. I think Dave would be so pleased right now.
KING: Were they fierce competitors?
BLOOM: Well, you know...
KING: Well, they were covering the same story.
BLOOM: They would cover the same story. No, their friendship transcended everything but they would spar in a cute way, you know, competitively and that -- also on the tennis court, I mean in every aspect of life. So, I actually -- there's a funny story when we were in Martha's Vineyard together we would often travel together.
David was covering the White House at the time, White House correspondent. So we were in Martha's Vineyard and Bob and David had a tennis match and the agreement was that whoever won the other one had to lay prone on the floor, on the ground of the tennis court and the other one could hold the racket up and stand and then that had to be framed and put up in the loser's home. So, I shared that picture here. I hope that you can find that one.
KING: Who won it?
BLOOM: He won and he's got his foot up on Bob and his racket up in the air and that was funny because, you know, they had this grudge match always going on but it was in the best of humor.
KING: When we come back with Melanie Bloom, we'll have a panel join us to talk more about DVT. Is it a disease?
BLOOM: You know it's a disease. It's a condition.
KING: Condition more...
BLOOM: You know it's...
KING: ...we're learning a lot more about.
KING: It kills more people than AIDS and breast cancer. For more information and to find out your own possibility of having it it's preventdvt.org. We'll be right back. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLOOM: "Dear Chrissy (ph), Nege (ph), and Atha (ph), in answer to your questions about the war, girls, yes it does scare me to think about our country going to war and my being in the middle of it.
The key is to use that natural fear that you have and should have to keep you safe 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."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
D. BLOOM: We had a brief rainstorm and lightning storm and that cleared things out just a little bit. Once again I'm going to show you back here behind me these mechanics working on this Bradley engine. Now they can actually see whereas an hour ago they had their glow sticks out and it was total pitch dark.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We've been talking with Melanie Bloom, who remains with us, the widow of David Bloom, NBC News correspondent, anchor of "Weekend Today." She is the national spokesperson for the Coalition to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis. She works for that coalition which is funded by the pharmaceutical company Aventis. Also joining us now, all the panelists in are New York, Dr. Geno Merli, expert on the prevention and management of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, his the Ludwig W. Kind Professor of Medicine and director of the division of Internal Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.
Cedric Bills is the former U.S. Army officer, repeat occurrences of both DVT and PE led to his medical discharge from the military. Ken Whitescarver is a businessman and athlete diagnosed with DVT in June of 2003. And Jadine Chow who lost her beloved brother-in-law to a DVT caused bilateral pulmonary embolism in January of last year.
Dr. Merli, is it more a condition than a disease?
DR. GENO MERLI, DIR. INTERNAL MEDICINE, THOMAS JEFFERSON U., EXPERT ON DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS: It is a condition that develops because of risk factors Larry, that patients may have. As Melanie brought up in the early part of the discussion. And that being immobilization, obesity, previous surgeries, or blood clots that may have developed in patients in the past.
So it is really a condition that's based upon risk factors that in the right circumstances could increase a patient's risk for developing this deadly complication.
KING: Is it preventable?
MERLI: Absolutely, this is a preventable entity. Patients need to realize the risk factors. That's why the coalition has put together this risk index that patients could look at, define their risk, get to their doctor, so that appropriate steps can be taken to prevent this complication.
KING: Since so many people have died from it, why is it a mystery?
MERLI: I don't think it's a mystery. I think it's a matter of awareness. And I think our focus as the coalition is to bring national attention to this process through a campaign that makes the public aware of the risk factors, the signs and symptoms, and of course getting to their physician for appropriate assessment and evaluation. And I think that's where we want to focus our efforts.
KING: How much of a help has Melanie been?
MERLI: Tremendous help. In the last year and a half, with Melanie on board with the coalition, she has brought a face and a sensitivity to this whole process. And I think it's helped us immensely to get the word out to the public, that this is something that we can hopefully stamp out in this country through an aggressive approach of risk assessment and prevention.
KING: Cedric Bills, the former U.S. Army officer, repeat occurrences of both DVT and PE led to his recent medical discharge from the military. What was happening to you, Cedric? CEDRIC BILLS, FMR U.S. ARMY OFCR; DVT AND PULMONARY EMBOLISMS LED TO MEDICAL DISCHARGE: Larry, in august 2002 I woke one morning with a pain in the back of my calf. Being a master fitness trainer, I shrugged it off as a muscle cramp. About Tuesday or Wednesday, I started to massage it. And on Thursday, I started to have shortness of breath. And those are two killer symptoms or signs that something wrong is going on.
I had a family vacation trip coming up. And on Friday, we actually took off for this that trip. Then my leg started to swell. So I was forced to go to the emergency room where they diagnosed me with DVT. And then later came back and said I had a bilateral PE. So I was very, very lucky.
KING: How were you treated?
BILLS: I was treated with coumadin and lovinax shots to go in and burst up the clot, and everything. Lots of rest. And just -- it was a slow recovery.
KING: Coumadin is a blood thinner. Do you keep taking it?
BILLS: Yes, sir. I'm actually on the blood thinner for life. If I can add while I was recovering, I've actually had three of these. While I was recovering from my last one last February, it was seeing Melanie on TV back in March, which she spoke about preventdvt.org, and I actually went to that Web site and I said, finally, one of the great functionalities of that Web site is you get a chance to tell your story.
That's exactly what I did. The other great things are there's the risk assessment. Everyone needs to find out if they are at risk.
KING: How does that make you feel, Melanie?
BLOOM: That feels great.
KING: Helped save someone?
BLOOM: Absolutely. That's why I'm here.
KING: Ken Whitescarver, businessman and athlete, diagnosed with DVT in June of 2003. What were your symptoms, Ken?
KEN WHITESCARVER, BUSINESSMAN, ATHLETE, DIAGNOSED WITH DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS: Larry, in June of '03, one day I started noticing I had a very hot spot to the touch on my leg, upper thigh. Hard, very hard to the touch. And a big red streak. And it kept getting worse. And very, very painful.
So on Friday afternoon I went to the doctor, my doctor. And she took a look at it and said, I think I know what I is. We did an ultrasound. She said, I want you to go straight to the hospital right now, to the emergency room. I said, it can't be that bad. I said, I'll just drive over there. She said, no, I'll take you myself. She drove me to the hospital. And we went to the emergency room. And they did another ultrasound, put me on a stretcher, started giving me the medications. So when I was in the hospital, about the second day I was there, the doctor came in to explain to me what was going on. And he said, you know, this is the same thing that David Bloom had.
And I said, but David Bloom died. And the doctor said, now I want you to understand the severity of what you have. And that really rang home and got my attention, obviously.
KING: This could be coming known as David Bloom's disease.
BLOOM: Right, exactly.
KING: When you think about it. He put a stamp on it.
BLOOM: He definitely put his face on it. And he will always be the face of DVT for me. But thousands of other faces have emerged. In fact, the public service announcement that we have now done for 2006 incorporates some of these very patients telling their stories in this public service announcement.
Last year's PSA reached over 37 million Americans. So we're hoping we can reach the same people this year with these other stories and other faces of DVT along with David's
KING: The Web site is preventdvt.org. We'll talk with Jadine Chow who lost her beloved brother-in-law to DVT last year in January. And lots more with the panel. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Also moving with the 30th infantry division was David Bloom. He was the perfect man to carry viewers along on the charge to Baghdad. He was tireless, completely focused, and clearly doing the work he loved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Melanie just gave me the DVT pin which I'll show you here. It's very well done. That's the pin. And it says, please wear this ribbon to show your support for raising awareness of deep vein thrombosis and its potentially deadly complication, pulmonary embolism, that can often be prevented but still claims thousands of lives each year. Identifying its risk factors, signs and symptoms are important first steps. By wearing the ribbon, you'll inspire more discussion and action to help prevent this potentially deadly condition. It can be worn on any day of the year, but especially in March which is DVT awareness month.
How do we come up with March?
BLOOM: Well, I don't know how it originated. I know that the coalition has been in existence now for three years and I joined them two years ago. And last March, we were celebrating a resolution passed on the Senate floor declaring March officially DVT awareness month.
KING: Let's meet Jadine Chow. Jadine, what happened to your brother in law?
JADINE CHOW, BROTHER-IN-LAW KILLED: Hi, Larry.
CHOW: My brother in law was 44-years-old, his name's Rich. He had broken his ankle back in November of 2004, over Thanksgiving Day weekend. He had orthopedic surgery to repair his broken ankle. You know, he had the rod and screws put in. Then he was recuperating. The doctor had said, "You know, you have to stay off your feet," while he was recuperating. First week of January, he started experiencing leg pain and swelling.
He thought it was gout and the doctors thought it was gout. January 8th, he started experiencing difficulty breathing. And eventually, he passed away on January 8th. And we later found out from the autopsy that he had pulmonary embolism, bilateral pulmonary embolism.
And I joined the coalition because of what happened to my brother-in-law Rich. And to bring awareness to other people and to other families so that this doesn't happen to any other family. My sister's alone now. And my two -- my niece and nephew also are alone without their father.
KING: Jadine, it's got to be weird to have a broken ankle and wind up dead.
CHOW: Yes. It was very -- unbelievable that that could happen, just from a broken ankle.
KING: Why couldn't they save him?
CHOW: They didn't know what was wrong. They thought it was gout at the time. But he had some of the risk factors that contributed to DVT. He was -- he had surgery, he was immobile and he was a big guy. There was some of the risk factors involved with DVT. If you go to the Web site, preventdvt.org, you can also assess your risk. If that -- you need to bring awareness to everybody to know that's there. And DVT is out there and can cause death.
KING: You know what's puzzling, Dr. Merli, is that every person seems to have a different case.
MERLI: Yes, Larry, and I think this exemplifies the fact that deep vein thrombosis can happen to anyone, at any age. And the key that we've looked at is, are the risk factors present? And if they are, can we then intervene early to prevent the process? And more importantly, if patients were to know what the signs and symptoms are of deep vein thrombosis, they can help in this process by alerting their physician that these problems are going on and an assessment can be made.
So I think that the focus for us is to look at the risk factors, look at the signs and symptoms, and then intervene early. So we're bringing patients in to be part of the care process.
BLOOM: Right, and I've spoken to patients who tell me, they've been told to go home and walk it off. You know, when they go for help, for a pain in their leg or something like that. So I think there's a real awareness piece even in the hospital setting or medical care community. People aren't thinking about DVT so it's often misdiagnosed or overlooked.
KING: David had any pre-sign?
BLOOM: Well he did have the leg cramps two days before he passed away. But again, you wouldn't immediately jump to those conclusions, you know, that it would be something potentially deadly. But those were his only signs and symptoms, just some pain in the lower leg.
KING: Doubtful they could have diagnosed that on the battlefield, either.
BLOOM: No, they couldn't, actually. He would have to have an ultrasound to diagnose that, at that stage, anyway.
KING: We'll be right back with more. The Web site is preventdvt.org. Don't go away.
KING: Cedric Bills, I know you had DVT but you also had pulmonary embolism. What is that?
BILLS: Well, a pulmonary embolism is where the clots actually break off from your leg and go into your lungs. And one of the biggest mistakes that I made, because I just didn't know what the signs and symptoms were, was that on the second day when I felt the pain, I started to massage my cramp.
I mean, master fitness trainer, you know, you get a cramp, you massage it. By massaging it, the blood clot actually broke off and went into both of my lungs, which can be potentially fatal.
BLOOM: You know, there's footage of David when he was doing live shots in between takes, where he leans over and sort of rubs right there on that leg. And later, when I would view that footage, that's exactly what Cedric is saying. You know, he was massaging an area that he should not have been.
KING: What saved you, Cedric?
BILLS: Well, getting to the doctor is what saved me. And had I not gone to the doctor -- see, I got some real, really good signs there at the end. And like Melanie says, not everyone gets the signs. I mean, I had the pain and then I had the shortness of breath. And then what really made me go to the doctor was that my leg just really swelled up badly. So what saved me was getting to the doctor in time.
KING: And what saved you, Ken?
WHITESCARVER: I'm pretty convinced that believe it or not David Bloom is who saved me, because what happened to David had just happened a couple of months prior to mine. I think not only the entire country but the medical community was a lot more aware of it.
My doctor obviously referred to it. And I'd feel pretty strongly about that. And that's why I wanted to be involved with the coalition, so that we could help prevent this happening, this tragedy happening, that happened to David Bloom, happening to anybody else -- or what happened to me, trying to prevent that from happening to anybody else.
KING: Are you okay now, Ken?
WHITESCARVER: Yes, sir. The blood clot is dissipated. I'm under constant care. I see a specialist at Wake Forest University Hospital on a quarterly basis. I'm on blood thinner. I had Lovenox and Heparin when I was in the hospital, and then I've been on Coumadin ever since my discharge from the hospital.
KING: Coumadin has been around maybe 200 years, I guess. Why do you need a blood thinner, Dr. Merli?
MERLI: Well Larry you need the blood thinner in order to prevent more blood clots from forming while you give the body a chance to reabsorb the blood clot that's currently say in the leg. So the Coumadin or Warfarin is necessary to prevent the propagation or growth of a clot.
KING: Gotcha. Now Jadine, do you feel your brother-in-law should have lived?
CHOW: If he was aware of it, if the doctors were aware of DVT, what the symptoms, the signs, the risk factors, he might be here telling his story.
KING: Well then don't you feel a little angry that the doctors weren't?
CHOW: I'm a little angry, yes. But this is why I joined a coalition, to bring awareness out there. They're the doctors, and other people can assess the risks and know the risks and the doctors be aware of what can happen.
KING: Melanie, do you keep in touch with the medical community?
BLOOM: I do. I do, actually, and I give some presentations on sort of a grassroots level, trying to reach out to caregivers and hospitals. KING: This is a shame if a doctor don't know what he's looking at.
BLOOM: Exactly, and again, putting that human face on it and reminding people that this is out there and it's prevalent and to please have it on the forefront of your mind when you're treating patients for other things.
Because patients are at risk when they're in the hospital. I think it's the No. 1 preventable cause of hospital death. So I get out there and talk to people and share my story and try to reach out.
KING: Dr. Merli, is it just as possible in women as in men?
MERLI: Larry, it's equal, both in women and men. There really is no difference based upon sex. It's mainly focused on the risk factors as we've talked before and that could pervade through all ages. So men and women, age is a risk factor. The older you are, the greater the risk. But as you can hear from the conversations we've had, it does not matter what age patients are, it's the risk factors they have.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments. Again, it's preventdvt.org. Don't go away.
KING: We don't usually boast about such things but Melanie just reminded me that this program won a Gracie Allen Award it's the second one we've won. And the award this year was for our interview with her. So we thank you.
BLOOM: Well thank you, it's a thrill.
KING: You'll be there?
BLOOM: I'll be there.
KING: You betcha. Dr. Merli, do we see any advance in this? By that I mean, possible reduction of the fatalities?
MERLI: Yes, Larry, I do see a reduction in the fatality of pulmonary embolism. As mentioned earlier by Melanie, 200,000 deaths per year in this country, and two million deep vein thrombosis develop in this country each year.
So I think our coalition has taken a very aggressive tactic. We are focusing on the public. We are focusing on health care professionals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists. And we're focusing on our people in public office to try to bring awareness through the surgeon general's office so that we can bring this tri-partide approach to reduce this deadly killer, deep vein thrombosis, with resulting pulmonary embolism.
So I believe we're making a lot of strides. And with Melanie's help and the stories that are being told here today, I believe this is going to have a large impact on reducing this killer in this country.
KING: Cedric Bills, the whole key is information?
BILLS: I always preach that, Larry. Information is key. It's just so vital. And the information can be -- it's right there at your fingertips by going to preventdvt.org. It's just going to save lives.
And I'm just -- I'd just like to say that I'm so proud to be working with the coalition to prevent DVT and Melanie and the rest of this panel. This is a worthy cause.
KING: Ken, you've got to feel pretty proud too that you're carrying on a legacy of David's.
WHITESCARVER: I do. I feel very honored and privileged to be working with a group, just as Cedric has mentioned. And we just want to get the message out. The Web site, as we repeatedly said, has some great information on it. Want to know people to be aware that they may be at risk and to investigate. So it's been a real, real honor to do this.
KING: And Jadine, even though you lost your brother-in-law, I salute you for getting active in here. You could have just as easily gone away and hid.
CHOW: I want to make a difference. I don't want my brother-in- law's death to mean nothing and to be in vain. So that's why I joined this coalition to bring awareness out there so this doesn't happen to anyone else.
KING: You've got to feel very proud. I mean, proud of what you're doing, but proud of all these people.
BLOOM: I'm so proud of them because I know how hard it is to get out and talk about your most painful private experiences. So I'm very proud of all of them. And I'm excited to be partnered with the coalition again this year to spread that word.
And I think David would too. He dedicated his life to giving information to the American public. And so in a sense I'm trying to champion his legacy by telling people about that which took his life.
KING: Dr. Merli, do you think we'll ever see a magic bullet?
MERLI: I don't think we'll see a magic bullet. I think we're going to see more awareness. I think we're going to see new medications in the very near future. And I think we're going to see a concerted effort to reduce the mortality and death from this deadly complication, deep vein thrombosis. So I see a lot of good things in the future here, Larry.
KING: Thank you all very much. Melanie Bloom, I salute you. Thank you.
BLOOM: Thank you, Larry.
KING: I'll see you in New York. Thank you everybody. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" is next. Good night.
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