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Woman Rescued After Amputation in Flooded Basement

April 21, 1995

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Hours after she was buried under concrete in the flooded basement of the federal building, doctors reached Dana Bradley and did the only thing they could to save her life _ amputate her right leg, without benefit of full anesthetic.

Blood dripped from the rubble above and twisted reinforcement bars poked surgeon Andy Sullivan, as he and another doctor, at times lying on their stomachs in 6 inches of water, cut off Ms. Bradley’s leg just below the knee.

The amputation took 10 minutes.

``You cut, pull back, clamp. Cut, pull back, clamp,″ said Dr. Gary Massad, an administrator at Southwest Medical Center, who hadn’t been in surgery in years. ``I’ll never forget the sound of it.″

The doctors worked by the light of a generator. Debris fell all the while.

Ms. Bradley, 20, had gone to get a Social Security card for her 4-month-old son when the bomb went off. Next thing she knew, she was pinned under a concrete wall.

Recovering Thursday at a hospital, her young son, a 3-year-old daughter and her mother remained missing. A sister was in intensive care at another hospital. All had accompanied her to the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

``My family is not the only one. It touches us all,″ Mary Hill said from her granddaughter’s bedside at University Hospital, after signing a release to let doctors cut off more of the leg because of the threat of gangrene.

Sullivan had combed through a maze of concrete to reach Ms. Bradley. She was buried under debris so deep it took an hour and a half just to get oxygen and a blanket to her, said Dr. Roger Bryant, a dentist who joined in the rescue with truck driver Bill Baay.

``I had to crawl to a small hole just to touch her,″ Bryant said. ``She grasped my hand and said it hurt, and she wanted to know about her mother. I told her to relax and save your energy and pretend you’re asleep.″

Ms. Bradley lost so much blood that Sullivan could not find a vein to give her a proper anesthetic. Instead, Massad said she was given an intramuscular painkiller that is about 50 percent as effective.

The rescue took two hours, and workers had to leave twice because the walls vibrated and there were fears of another bomb, Massad said.

Family members gathered around Ms. Bradley’s bedside Thursday afternoon as doctors conferred. A cousin, Rose Hill, said that Ms. Bradley is a ``brave girl, and the Lord is good.″

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