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CNN NEWSROOM

Suspects' Mother Talks to CNN; Bombing Survivor Speaks Out

Aired April 25, 2013 - 14:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Of course. Let me find this (INAUDIBLE). And there -- did he go to the mosque on (INAUDIBLE) when he was here?

ZUBEIDAT TSARNAEV, BOMBING SUSPECTS' MOTHER: He went to every mosque that he could go and it is not -- I don't to emphasize one culture. I don't know why everybody wants to emphasize the culture.

WALSH: I understand completely. Give me one second. Here it is. We also spoke with a police officer who talked about Abu Dujan.

TSARNAEV: Who is that?

WALSH: He was killed in December. Did your son ever mention him? There was a link to him on your son's YouTube page.

TSARNAEV: He never talked to me about Dujan.

WALSH: It will take one second to download.

TSARNAEV: I mean, I was told that you have that like a bigger size and --

WALSH: I'm sorry. It was downloaded before I came here.

TSARNAEV: Yes.

WALSH: And it is gone away and now it has to come back. This will take a couple of seconds. I am embarrassed that this is the case.

TSARNAEV: OK, well, I think you're just kind of not honest if you're doing this. You said -- are you going to show me?

WALSH: Here it is. It is downloading. It was supposed to be here and it is downloading now. So I am completely honest with you.

TSARNAEV: OK, please be honest.

WALSH: Why would I be dishonest?

TSARNAEV: Because remember I told you that I saw it.

WALSH: I know. I know.

TSARNAEV: It is there I saw it. WALSH: Just a few minutes, it will be ready, OK. So let me ask you again, describe your son. Is there a moment from their childhood that you remember close to you?

TSARNAEV: I remember him always, always from the very first day that he was born. There was no day that I don't remember him. Every day like many, many moments in our life, many episodes -- I -- there are many of him to be talking about, so -- he was the most caring son.

WALSH: Describe to me -- described when he came back here, she was amazed because most kids go to America and they get into drink or drugs and he came back and he was very devout Muslim, embraced his faith. You are a devout Muslim as well. Explain to me what your faith means to you and what it meant to him.

TSARNAEV: What it meant to me?

WALSH: What he told you his faith meant to him and what your Islamic faith means to you?

TSARNAEV: Well, Islamic faith is to believe that there is one God and only one messenger. I mean, his messenger is Muhammad -- and the Koran, you know, that's -- everyone so.

WALSH: What does it mean in daily life?

TSARNAEV: In daily life? Praying five times a day, daily life and making some remembrance of Allah.

WALSH: What did it mean for him?

TSARNAEV: For him it's the same.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: There's Nick Paton Walsh reporting, talking to the mother of the two bombing suspects who will not apparently be traveling to the United States any time soon. She does face an arrest warrant here based on shoplifting charges, which she skipped out on when she left the country several years ago.

There's a press conference talking at Brigam & Women's Hospital. Let's go there now. Katie Abbott, who lost part of her leg below the knee is going to be speaking, as well as her doctor. Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- then we're going to hear from Heather Abbott, our courageous patient, truly inspirational person. Following the speakers, we are going to take questions. I'm going to be repeating your questions for a couple of reasons.

One, we're webcasting so the folks that are watching via webcast around the country need to hear what you've to ask in order to understand the answer. Two, Heather is having a bit of difficulty hearing following the blast, so we want to make sure she hears your questions. So have patience with the process I know it's a little bit irritating and try to be as concise as you possibly can with your questions so I don't have to remember a lot to repeat. As you all know, Heather is recovering. Her most recent surgery was on Monday.

So her nurse, Melissa is here and I'm going to ask Melissa to give me the high sign when she thinks enough is enough. If any of you knows Brigham nurses, when they say jump, we say how high and how fast, so I'm going to keep an eye on Melissa.

There will be no one-on-one interviews after the conference with Dr. Bluman or with Heather, so please make sure you get your answers to your questions here, and then when we are finished, we're going to ask you all to just pull back to allow Heather and her family to exit and we'll take care of anything you need logistically afterwards, OK? Any logistical questions? Let's get started with Dr. Eric Bluman.

DR. ERIC BLUMAN, ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON, BRIGAM AND WOMEN'S HOSPITAL: Hi, everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want to come to the podium so they can hear you through the mic? Thank you. That one better, OK, stay there.

BLUMAN: I've been asked initially to provide a synopsis of Heather's hospital course and we'll start with that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Bluman, can you pull it a little bit closer? You can take it off the stand, if you like.

BLUMAN: So Heather came to Brigam and was brought to the emergency department on marathon Monday and was evaluated there by many, many teams, many people, emergency department, general surgery, plastic surgery, orthopedics, and I know I'm leaving people out, but a whole host of people in the emergency department.

And she was then triaged to the O.R., to the operating room, and that was to both to clean her wounds and evaluate the wounds and treat her wounds. And one of the things that Heather had, in addition to blast injuries, one of the components of her injury was a vascular injury.

And our vascular surgeons did an excellent, amazing job right off the bat and did what we call a revascularization to restore blood flow to her foot so that limb salvage would be an option, because without blood flow, you can't save a limb.

And, again, she was treated by a plastic surgery orthopedics and the general surgeons all simultaneously. And she was then -- that was Monday, and on Wednesday she went back for a second evaluation to make sure that the tissues that looked viable at, on marathon Monday were indeed staying viable and still had good blood supply and had not been compromised further.

This was an evolutionary process that happened on Wednesday and also Friday, and that really took us to Monday, a week from marathon Monday when she underwent a below knee amputation. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, and do you want to talk a little bit about the course from here, what we expect in terms of recovery?

BLUMAN: Right. The below-knee amputees, as in Heather's case, have a very much accelerated recovery relative to some people who undergo limb salvage procedures. So she's going to go to rehab as soon as she feels she's ready and we feel she's ready to make sure that she's ready to go home.

And it's an interim stage between going to -- coming from the hospital before going home, just to check to make sure that everything she needs to do and her caregivers need to do at home can be done successfully. And that can take a variable period of time depending on the patient's condition, what's their home situation they have, and other variables, as well.

And she will then come back and see me in the office. I hope that she'll be out of rehab by the time her first office visit comes upon us, and then we will look at her wounds, make sure that they are healing properly, and get her started on physical therapy.

About six weeks from her last procedure, we expect to move her to a temporary prosthesis and start her walking, and that will take -- she will continue walking and learning how to walk with a prosthesis, building up strength, endurance, balance, and all of the things necessary to be a below-the-knee amputee successfully.

And then hopefully around four to six months she'll move into a permanent prosthesis and then really up her activity levels and hopefully move to doing everything she was able to do prior to marathon Monday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, Heather, it's your turn. I'm just going to hand you the microphone.

HEATHER ABBOTT, INJURED IN BOSTON BOMBING: Well, thank you, everyone, for coming today. I received several calls from probably some of you in the room and my family and friends have, as well, but I thought this would be a good venue to sort of answer any questions, overlapping types of questions, all at once.

I thought that before I saw all these cameras and all these people, but I think it is a good idea. So I kind of wanted to just share my message with you before I answered any questions, and what that really is, is the surprise and just overwhelmed by the amount of support and patience, and just general interest and caring in my situation by my friends and my family and by people I don't even know.

If someone had told me that I was going to have half a leg, basically, at the age of 38 before this happened, I think I would have never believed it. I think I would have been devastated, and I really haven't had a moment yet of being devastated because I've gotten so much support from the hospital.

I mean, the hospital's brought in individuals who are in the same situation as I am, they live normal lives. They were able to tell me about that, which has been great. My family has been here with me since I got here. They have been staying overnight. I live down in Newport, Rhode Island, so they've been staying and supporting me every single day.

I have had a slew of friends come to visit me every day. My room is never empty. So it's been very overwhelming and I couldn't have imagined this type of response to my having the type of injury like this. So although it's something I certainly wouldn't wish upon myself or anyone else, you know, it's really not as bad as I thought it could have been.

I really think I'm going to be able to live my life in a normal way, eventually, when I get that permanent prosthesis. But state offices in Rhode Island have been great. Everyone has reached out to me, so I feel very supported.

I think I'm one of the few victims of the bombing that is not from Massachusetts, but, again, no worries for me there, so that's just kind of what I wanted to say and kind of let people know. I'm certainly happy to answer any questions that you might have.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Questions? Yes, right here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you say state offices in Rhode Island, can you tell us who they are --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So Heather, I'm going to repeat the question. The question is, who have you heard from, from the state offices in Rhode Island and where do you anticipate going for your rehabilitation?

ABBOTT: OK, I heard from Congressman Lanchevin, Senator Reid, and Governor Chaffey. I'm planning to go to Spalding for my rehabilitation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Next question, yes, Allie?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you talk a little bit about the process of seeing your leg, your foot, can you talk about the decision for you to amputate?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, the question is, could you talk a little bit about the decision making process to amputate?

ABBOTT: Well, Dr. Bluman kind of gave me the rundown, as did several other doctors, on the choice I had, and basically it was whether to keep my leg, the rest, my foot actually is where the injury occurred, or to amputate sort of below the knee.

And it certainly was a difficult decision, but when I weighed the pros and cons, I think this was the best option for me. Dr. Bluman had explained to me that if I kept my foot, it was very badly mangled. It would probably most likely never fully heal or be functional.

It would likely be shorter, one of my legs would likely be shorter than the other, and I wouldn't be able to live the lifestyle that I did prior to the injury. Although the prosthetic is going to be something that I'll have to get used to, I think I have a better chance of living my life the way I used to with that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Next question, yes, here in the second row.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Talking about a better chance to live your life, what are you hoping to be able to do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, the question is, what are some of the things you're hoping to do in the coming months and the coming years?

ABBOTT: In the coming months probably not much other than walking, but, you know, I talked to somebody yesterday, actually, one of the doctors came in to see me and he was asking me what kind of activities I do. I told him I like to run. I like to do Zumba classes, aerobics classes, that sort of thing.

I told to him about plans I had this summer to do yoga paddle boarding and that I was kind of disappointed that I wouldn't be able to do it this year, some friends and I wanted to sign up for it, and he said you'll be doing it next year, don't worry about it. I'm not worried I won't be able to maintain the same type of lifestyle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heather, can you take us back to the day this happened, what happened, and what you remember?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Heather, can you take them back through the day this happened, what happened, and what you remember?

ABBOTT: Sure. I was -- well, I was up with a bunch of my friends from the Newport area. We usually take the train on Patriots Day from Providence to Boston and watch the Red Sox game and then go over to a bar called "Forum." It's been a tradition for us.

One of our friends works at "Forum" as a bar tender. She happened to be working that day, so we made plans to go there and meet some other friends there. When we left the game a little bit early, some of us split up. A group of us got to the bar "Forum" a little earlier than two of my girlfriends and me.

When we got there, we were standing in line outside waiting to get in. The bouncer was checking peoples' I.D.s and I was the last of the three of us in line, and as we were standing there, a loud noise went off and I remember turning around and looking and seeing smoke and seeing people screaming.

And I immediately -- it immediately reminded me of 9/11, something I'd seen on TV. And it just all happened so quickly that when I turned around, the second blast had already happened, and it blew a bunch of us into the bar, and I suppose it hit me because I was the last one. I was on the ground.

Everybody was running to the back of the bar, to the exit, and I felt like my foot was on fire. I knew I couldn't stand up, and I didn't know what to do. I was just screaming, somebody please help me, and I was thinking, who's going to help me? Everybody else was running for their lives, and to my surprise, and from what I'm learning now, I'm kind of just learning how I was sort of rescued out of there, there were two women and two men involved in helping me get out of the bar and into an ambulance.

The first woman, I believe, was someone from the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, and she had initially seen me and helped me get kind of tried to drag me, and then a gentleman who I later learned was Matt Chatham took me up the stairs and carried me outside.

He and his wife were attending to me, as well as another member of the Andruzzi Association. And they wouldn't leave my side until they knew I was safe in the ambulance, along with the friends that I had attended the game with that day. I've talked to them briefly.

I'm actually supposed to meet him at some point, so I'm really looking forward to that. And then, you know, I was put in the ambulance with other individuals, you know, I looked to my side and there were other people there in the ambulance, as well. It was very scary.

I didn't know, you know, if -- what was going to happen to me, if it was just my foot that was injured. I asked the EMT to call my mom, and he called her. I only knew her home phone number, so luckily she happened to be home, and I heard him tell her to go to Brigam & Women's and that's pretty much all I remember about that evening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Next question. Let's go over here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How much you've been thinking about the suspects in this and what your thoughts might be now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, the question to Heather is curious what you're thinking about the suspect and what you're thinking about the remaining suspect.

ABBOTT: I honestly -- it's funny, I've been asked that question before, and I haven't thought much about them at all. I don't even know how to pronounce their names. I haven't watched TV since the incident.

And I think that's one of the things that kind of helped me get through this, to just focus on my recovery and, you know, how to proceed with my life. I'm sure at some point I will be interested in the details and have an opinion about, you know, the individuals that did this, but I haven't let my mind go there at all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heather, could you get back to talking about the decision process, could you talk about your emotions during that and could you reach the point where you just had to decide I'm going to do this and not look back?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me just repeat the question. Sorry, Heather, for the people listening online. So, the question was can you talk a little bit about the emotion around the decision for amputation and did you reach a point where you just made a decision and decided you wouldn't look back?

ABBOTT: I guess that's what I did. As I said to myself, I need to make a decision and the best case scenario seems to be to have the amputation. Unlikely as that sounded, I didn't think that would be what I was saying to myself, but it really was. So, I just went with that decision.

I had a lot of people who supported it. In fact, I didn't have any doctors or friends or family who said they thought I was making a mistake. So, it was a decision that I almost felt like I didn't have a choice. It was what I really needed to do.

I just tried not to think about it too much as I was going into the operating room, when I was going to come out I wasn't going to have a whole leg anymore, and it's been, you know, difficult. But I know that, you know, it's going to only be difficult for a short period of time and eventually things will get better.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gentleman in the back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, can you talk a little bit about what your expectations are from the "One Fund" and costs of prosthetic and how it's affected you financially?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, that's a big question, a lot of questions in a question. The question was about the "One Fund," which I'm not even sure heather is aware of, because she hasn't been watching the news and the financial impact of an injury like this and prosthetics.

ABBOTT: I've heard of the "One Fund." I don't really know a whole lot about it. I don't know how they plan to distribute the money amongst the victims of the attack, and honestly haven't really thought about it very much.

The cost of prosthetics, there have been so many different organizations that have come forward to offer their assistance in paying for that, so I've been trying to look at some of those options that have been presented.

You know, I realize that they only last a certain period of time and that, you know, I'm going to have them the rest of my life and they are certainly not inexpensive. But it's -- I haven't really given it all that much thought.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't mean to cut you off. Heather's friends have established a fund for her. On the fax sheet that you received is the address for that, and we'd certainly appreciate anything you can do to promote Heather's fund. Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mentioned similar situation, can you talk a little bit about what they said to you and also have you had a chance to talk to others?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, it's a two-part question. Could you talk a little bit about the conversations with the other amputees that the hospital brought in to talk with you and have you talked with any of the other victims of the bombing?

ABBOTT: I haven't talked to any of the other victims at all. One of them actually is a friend of mine, so at some point I'd be interested in talking to her. I think she's been very busy. She had an above the knee amputation. She wasn't with me that day, but she is a friend of mine, so, you know, certainly anxious to talk to her and others who are in the same situation I am as far as -- I'm sorry, the other part of the question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The other part of the question was the folks that came in who are amputees to talk with you about what their lifestyle was like, how were those conversations?

ABBOTT: I had a couple people talk to me about the fact they were not willing to give up their foot at the point where they had to make the decision I had to make and how they really regretted that decision because it was years of pain and unnecessary sort of suffering for them.

So, you know, that kind of helped me with the decision hearing different people sort of support what the doctors here were telling me. Most of the people that I've spoken with have had amputations related to motorcycle accidents or some received amputations for incidents that happened in Iraq or Afghanistan.

And, you know, they seem like very positive people. They just say, you know, this is who they are and I aspire to be like that eventually.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gentleman at the back?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've been through what many would describe as a life-altering experience. Explain your positive attitude and what your message would be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, you have been through what appears to be a life-altering experience. Can you explain for us your positive attitude and --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The message for others.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Message for others, what's your message for others?

ABBOTT: Well, I think it's like I said earlier, it is a life-altering experience, and if I didn't have the support system in my family and friends that I do, I think I would be devastated. I don't think I would have a positive outlook, but it's so hard for me to focus on anything negative, because they are always around.

You know, I have hardly any time to myself to really sit there and dwell on it, and if I do find myself, you know, my mind kind of going there, I try to turn it right around and say you can't sit there and say what if I arrived 5 minutes later or 5 minutes earlier or what if I decided not to go to the game this year. I think I did that for a little while, but, you know, this is the situation I'm faced with. It's not going to change, so for me to kind of dwell on the negative is sort of a waste of time to me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, right here, Amy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Heather, was there a point in this whole process where you thought you might be able to save the limb?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The question is, was there a point in this whole process you thought you might be able to save the limb. I don't know if you want to start with Dr. Bluman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a follow-up for Dr. Bluman.

ABBOTT: There were points I thought I would be able to keep it, especially at the beginning when I went into my first surgery directly from the bombing. They said the doctors told me they needed to do a second surgery and determine if they would be able to save it or not. Until they did that surgery, I was thinking there was a possibility I would be able to until they actually did it and came back and said, you know, you could, but you probably shouldn't.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That would be my follow-up question for Dr. Bluman. What's sort of the tipping point, we see these injuries, but they are coming out of war zones. What are the risk benefits for patients? Can you tell me how many patients like Heather's we've seen?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, the question for Dr. Bluman is what is the risk benefit of making the decision to amputate and have you seen many injuries like this, as these are typically injuries seen in war zones?

BLUMAN: There are a lot of things that play into this, and it's very, very rare that the doctor makes the decision. We do everything to let the patient come to their own decision on this, because values for every separate patient are different.

And keeping a limb may be very important to one and being a whole person, not losing any limbs may be of the utmost importance while for someone else, like Heather, function is paramount. And so you have to balance those things.

And everybody has their own separate value system and decision tree that they go through. As orthopedic surgeons and trauma surgeons, our job is not to make the decision, but help the patient make the best decision for themselves.

In terms of I have the unfortunate experience of having a lot of experience with this because I'm a war veteran and I served in "Operation Iraqi Freedom," and so I've seen a lot of these. And the silver lining of that is I think it helps me talk to the patient, understand the patient, and counsel the patient on what's the best decision for them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Next question, woman in the orange. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said you haven't been watching a lot of the TV, but are you aware of the overwhelming support coming from the city and from the country and also your reaction?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So there's a two-part question. Are you aware of the overwhelming support coming from the community and the country and can you talk a little bit about your visit with our first lady Michelle Obama?

ABBOTT: I think I'm somewhat aware of the support that's coming from the state of Massachusetts, the country, just by the different things like the "One Fund" that's been set up, the support from, you know, medical agencies, amount of money that my friends have raised for me already in my fund is astonishing, so I do understand the support that's coming around. Second part of the question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you talk a little bit about your visit with Michelle Obama?

ABBOTT: Yes. When I met Michelle Obama, it was relatively brief. I was under the influence of a lot of medication, so I wish I remembered it better, however, she came in. She was very nice.

She told me she was sorry about the injury, you know, talked to me and my family and friends for a little bit who kind of gathered around the bed to hear her as well. She talked about the fact that she typically only gives this certain coin out to military personnel who were injured and she actually gave one to me. So that was really nice. And the visit was fairly brief, but she was a very nice lady. We had a nice conversation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, in the corner here.

QUESTION: Three-part question, if I may.

ABBOTT: Oh, come on. Give me a break. Let's go one at a time.