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Amputee Takes Steps Toward Her Future

July 14, 1995

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Her uneven steps across the room on an artificial limb showed Daina Bradley had physically overcome the trauma of losing her leg in the federal building bombing.

Psychologically, the pain still lingers, she said.

The shy 21-year-old bombing victim caught the country’s attention when her leg had to be amputated for her rescue from the building.

As she demonstrated her progress with an artificial leg Thursday and accepted a $19,000 check to help pay for her medical costs, she talked openly of her suffering and how she blamed herself for the deaths of her mother and two children in the April 19 explosion.

``I thought maybe if I would have waited just a day or if I had just waited a while, I would have my kids and my mother,″ she said.

Ms. Bradley had gone into the building to get a Social Security card for her infant son, Gabreon Bruce. Her little girl, Peachlyn, her mother, Cheryl Hammons, and sister, Falesha, went with her.

In the moments before the blast, Ms. Bradley said something told her to take her children and run. She didn’t.

``If I would have gone by my conscience, I would have my kids right now.″

Moving past the sorrow has been difficult, particularly when the whole world is watching. ``I tried to be strong as much as possible, but some days I can’t,″ she said, crying.

It has taken all the strength she can muster, she says, not to hate those responsible for the explosion, which killed 168 and injured more than 500. Nineteen children were among the dead.

``I have not gotten mad at him, Tim McVeigh. I’m just throwing him up to God,″ she said. ``(Anger) is not going to bring back all those kids that died and all those people that died.″

McVeigh and Terry Nichols are the only ones charged in the bombing.

Ms. Bradley’s sister, Falesha, still showing the scars of her head injury, sat in the audience with her grandmother, Mary Hill, and aunt, Victoria Slaughter. Ms. Bradley’s fiance, Gabe Bruce, stood nearby.

Several doctors made the decision April 19 to amputate Ms. Bradley’s right leg so that she could be pulled from the unstable remains of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. She was buried so deep in the rubble that it took 1 1/2 hours just to lower oxygen and a blanket to her.

She had lost so much blood that doctors were unable to administer an anesthetic. Instead, she was given an intramuscular painkiller, which was half as effective.

After a crude, 10-minute procedure, she eventually was taken out of the structure.

In the past weeks, prosthetists at the Sabolich Prosthetist and Research Center have helped Ms. Bradley adjust to her new contoured-fit leg composed of titanium and a lightweight silicon-based material.

When she steps down on her leg, electrodes inside send off electronic signals to her brain, telling her of changes in the walking surface.

The center has waived the cost of a year of assistance and service.

Each day, Ms. Bradley has to put the leg on and prosthetists must align it. She then has to exercise her muscles so that they don’t regress.

``It’s not like you get up and put a shoe on and say `Oh, that doesn’t fit, so I’ll just put on another one,″ prosthetist Kevin Carroll said.

Although the road ahead is long, Ms. Bradley says the days are brighter _ because she’s pregnant.

``I know I have to make it.″

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