This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," March 6, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: ABC anchor Bob Woodruff almost died on January 29, 2006 he suffered a very serious brain injury from an IED explosion in Iraq. He was doing his job as a journalist in Iraq, bringing you the story directly from the battlefield when the bomb exploded. He received immediate medical care in the field, was airlifted to Germany where he had surgery and then eventually brought home to the USA.
In all, he spent 36 days in a coma. We all watched, wondering would he live and if he did, what would life be like for him? We be able to walk, talk, or even think. Bob Woodruff and his wife write about their lives turned upside-down in a book, "In an Instant: A Family's Journey of Love and Healing."
A short time a go, we sat down with Bob and Lee Woodruff.
VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to see both of you.
BOB WOODRUFF, ABC ANCHOR: Oh, it's great to be here.
VAN SUSTEREN: It is great to see you. God knows we all watched that fateful morning when we got the news. But, now everything looks great.
Brand new book, "In an Instant."
LEE WOODRUFF, WIFE OF BOB WOODRUFF: Yeah. We're kind of excited about it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Lee let me start with you. The phone call when you got when you learned that something happened to Bob.
L. WOODRUFF: I think it's a phone call that everyone dreads because whether it's, you know, your son in Iraq or a child in a car accident or that diagnosis from a disease, I knew right away when I heard David Westin's voice, the president of ABC, I knew this was not good.
VAN SUSTEREN: Had you ever spoken to Westin before.
L. WOODRUFF: I had. I knew he and his wife Sherri pretty well. Never imagined I'd be getting — socially, and I never imagined getting that kind of a phone call from him.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you were on vacation in Disney World with your four children.
L. WOODRUFF: Right.
VAN SUSTEREN: Every thing — it seemed like top of the world.
L. WOODRUFF: We were having a great weekend.
VAN SUSTEREN: Madly in love with your husband who's off on a great adventure, a great job. And what time did the phone call come in?
L. WOODRUFF: 7:00 a.m., about two minutes before my wakeup call had been planned to kind of get me up. I was going to sneak out and go for a run. And so I was sure it was the wakeup call. In fact I was so sure, that I just sort of picked up the phone and said "Hello" and I started hanging it back up and I heard a voice coming out of the receiver saying my name and I thought, wait a minute, that's not a wakeup call and it was David Westin saying Bob's been injured in Iraq and we believe he's taking shrapnel to the brain and I thought, you know, injured, wait a minute, he was just doing a story on an ice cream shop in Baghdad. You know, what's he doing out in the Army? Because, there are times that, let's just say, he didn't always tell me the truth about exactly what he was doing, more to protect me, I think. But, I didn't know he was embedded.
VAN SUSTEREN: Bob, halfway across the world, in Iraq. Imagine one of the most exciting stories a journalist can tell, important and exciting.
B. WOODRUFF: This was the seventh time I'd been over in Iraq reporting. Two of them was when Saddam was around and these were — the fifth one during the war, since the invasion back in 2003. At this point what we really wanted to do is to see exactly how the power's being passed over from the American military to the Iraqis and see how they were doing and how these Iraqis were doing. And we were in the tank with them and suddenly we came into an area that was high IED, kind of dangerous area and then that's pretty much everything I remember.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you remember actually going out that morning? I mean, do you have a recollection of that morning?
B. WOODRUFF: I remember some details of it, but very minor. You know, we there were for about two days, out with these Iraqi military to see what they were doing and it was toward the end or the middle, I guess, of the second day, about noon when this thing finally went off.
VAN SUSTEREN: Who was with you?
B. WOODRUFF: Well, I had my producer, Vinnie Malhotra, and I also had my camera, Doug Vogt, who was also up on — with his camera outside of the door at the top of this. We were both doing a stand-up when this happened.
And then, of course, the Fourth Infantry where the guys who were taking care of us. And even some of the military guys, the Iraqi military guys, also helped save my life.
VAN SUSTEREN: When was the — after that point of the explosion, when was the next time you remember something?
B. WOODRUFF: Well, after the explosion, right when it went off, I just suddenly went out. And for that one minute that I was unconscious, I saw my body kind of floating underneath me and whiteness and after one minute, I woke up again and I had fallen down into the tank and I looked up and I saw Doug Vogt, who was my cameraman. His head was bleeding, blood was coming down his face and his eyes were open and afraid. And I asked him, both him and Vinnie, are we still alive? And they said, yes. And I remember kind of leaning over a little bit and spitting out some blood. And that was, for about 10 minutes, and then I went out again, I don't remember anything for the next 36 days when I was in a coma.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you remember when you came out of the coma?
B. WOODRUFF: I remember a little bit of detail about it. What I do remember, is I remembered seeing Lee finally coming into the room. I had been out for about three hours, when I woke up. And then she came in and she hadn't seen me awake for the last, I don't know, for more than...
L. WOODRUFF: A month.
B. WOODRUFF: About a month and a half and she had seen me alive before and I walked in and of course I had a moment of finally seeing her.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did you have any sense then that it had been 36 days or that you'd been out — or is it just like time was sort of compressed and you didn't know where you were?
B. WOODRUFF: I had no idea. I had no idea where I was. I had no idea if I'd been asleep for an hour, a day, a month, a year, I didn't have any idea. But didn't — you know, in the beginning I don't think I even really asked many questions about it. I don't think that I asked even if I had been asleep for very long.
L. WOODRUFF: No. No. He sort of came out of it really giddy, kind of. His sense of humor was really heightened. He was really, really funny. You're not that funny in real life.
VAN SUSTEREN: I should tell you, that you are. You've got great gallows humor in the book and if nothing else, in the midst of a tragedy, I want to be with you because you are great gallows humor.
L. WOODRUFF: I did have a lot of humor, yeah. But he was just silly and he would ask questions every now and then. But I do remember, I probably never told you this. I do remember when we actually told you that you had been out for 36 days and you were astounded. You were sort of like what? I think you really thought it was a couple hours or a couple days.
VAN SUSTEREN: We have much more with Bob and Lee Woodruff ahead.
VAN SUSTEREN: Bob Woodruff came as to close to death as one can without dying. The ABC anchor is making a most miraculous recovery. He and his wife have now written a new book "In an Instant," Lee and Bob Woodruff, "A Family's Journey of Love and Healing." Here is more of our talk with Bob and his wife Lee.
VAN SUSTEREN: Lee, you get the phone call. You've got four children, it's not just your, you know, heartache to deal with, not knowing if your husband was going to live or not or even how he's going to be if he does live. You've got two very young ones and two very preteens, basically.
L. WOODRUFF: Right.
VAN SUSTEREN: You had you to get them on a plane and get them to New York, figure out to what to do with them and had you to get to Germany?
L. WOODRUFF: Yes, I did. You know, first of all, no one can do this without a wonderful cadre of friends, which we had. I got home from Disney World. I was met on the tarmac by one of Bob's bosses, Mimi Gurbst, who sort of enveloped me in her arms, took me home and there were already this cadre of amazing friends from our town in Rye, who were already packing a suitcase, pulling my laundry from Disney World out, dealing with where the kids were going to go. I mean, it was just amazing. I think I described it in the book as it was sort of everyone formed themselves into a colony, like bees and they just had taken on jobs.
VAN SUSTEREN: And I should add, one made it — even packed some of Bob's stuff and you made a crack about Bob's...
L. WOODRUFF: Underwear.
B. WOODRUFF: Underwear.
VAN SUSTEREN: Underwear in the book.
L. WOODRUFF: Yeah.
VAN SUSTEREN: If nothing else, worth reading the book, just to hear about Bob's underwear.
B. WOODRUFF: You had to ask about underwear.
VAN SUSTEREN: Bob's underwear.
L. WOODRUFF: Or briefs. I won't tell. You have to read the book.
VAN SUSTEREN: But Lee, had you to fake it with the children — I mean, like — I mean, every patient has this problem, it that, like you had you to take like everything was OK on that flight — the original flight.
L. WOODRUFF: Yes, from Disney World, I did.
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, what — how do you do that? How do you fake it?
L. WOODRUFF: That's where "The General" came in. "The General" is what call this sort of steely, calm that seeped into my brain and I was really not going to process or focus on negative things. I was going to just kind of put the one foot in front of the other and deal with the immediate task and I was going to remain really hopeful. I was going to believe this was all going to be better. I'll never forget David Westin saying to me later, that every phone call he continued to get, this was breaking the wrong way, is what he told me. This was just — each phone call was worse and worse and worse. But in my head, I was telling myself, this is actually going to be better than it originally appears.
VAN SUSTEREN: So, you hop on a plane with Bob brother, David Blume's wife...
L. WOODRUFF: Melanie, right.
VAN SUSTEREN: And your brother-in-law?
L. WOODRUFF: My brother-in-law Shawn, my sister Nancy's husband.
VAN SUSTEREN: And fly across the ocean, must have been the flight — most agonizing flight, seven hours or so to Germany.
L. WOODRUFF: Incommunicado with anybody.
VAN SUSTEREN: Not knowing if he is dead or alive.
L. WOODRUFF: Right.
VAN SUSTEREN: Not knowing what you're going to hear when you land.
L. WOODRUFF: Or see.
VAN SUSTEREN: Or see.
L. WOODRUFF: When I land.
VAN SUSTEREN: If you could see anything.
L. WOODRUFF: Right.
I mean, really not being able to picture anything, it was also sort of a horrible flight. There was this flight attendant who was kind of a dictator, as well, which was not necessarily what we needed in our grief. And, yeah, it was a great unknown for seven hours, torture.
VAN SUSTEREN: It's all captured in the book and I urge the viewers to read it. Because even the detail, you know, of the injuries.
But the thing that strikes me about the book is the love story. I mean, you know, it's like — it's — it's that old fashioned, you know, two people meet very young. You met — you saw — you met each other in college.
L. WOODRUFF: We knew who each other was, right?
VAN SUSTEREN: Oh he made — you see...
B. WOODRUFF: She had a different boyfriend.
L. WOODRUFF: He had a girlfriend, for all four years — Christie.
B. WOODRUFF: She was just...
L. WOODRUFF: Let's bring that out right now.
B. WOODRUFF: She was as funny as they come. She has been making me laugh since the very beginning, so — I fell in love with her, I think, from the very beginning. She doesn't always tell that story.
L. WOODRUFF: No.
VAN SUSTEREN: What I love though is the stories that when, you know, after college you ran into her in New York, in a restaurant.
B. WOODRUFF: Yeah.
VAN SUSTEREN: And she introduced you to her sister.
B. WOODRUFF: I was walking with my law firm and they were taking us out to lunch and I walked in this room and in this room was this big room full of models.
L. WOODRUFF: Right, we where doing a photo shoot, yeah.
B. WOODRUFF: I looked over — so, I tell the story that there's a room full of beautiful models and Lee.
L. WOODRUFF: Ba-dum-bum.
VAN SUSTEREN: And what happens? What happens when you get introduced?
B. WOODRUFF: Well as soon — I think right at that moment — first she called me Bob Woodward.
L. WOODRUFF: Right.
VAN SUSTEREN: That was a good touch. That's a real nice pick up touch.
L. WOODRUFF: I know. I really thought that was his name. Yeah.
That was a good touch.
B. WOODRUFF: Then after that, we started going out and that was pretty much the beginning.
VAN SUSTEREN: And, you know, it's the chronicles in here, you know, of what — you went off to prove for three weeks at one point and decided to pop the question.
B. WOODRUFF: I thought it was — I was this close to possibly dying, so I said if I'm almost dying I might as well think about getting married and so I came back and got off this plane and I smelled, I had not shaved in three weeks and met her in the park and I asked her to marry me.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why do you love her?
B. WOODRUFF: Why do I love her?
L. WOODRUFF: Oh, I want to hear this.
B. WOODRUFF: Oh, she is — if you got to know her better, you'll see it, too. She's just an absolutely wonderful person.
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