Erika Brannock's life was forever changed the day the bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon finish line in April. Part of her left leg was blown off, and her right leg was broken. She might have died if a stranger hadn't been there to provide critical care and support.
Brannock, 29, was discharged from Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center this week; she was the last patient injured in the attack to be released. As she returned home to Maryland, she thought about all she had overcome, the 11 surgeries she endured and the challenges she faces adjusting to her new normal.
The preschool teacher also spent a lot of time thinking about the woman who held her hand and tied a tourniquet around her severed limb. Brannock desperately wanted to find her hero.
On Monday night, CNN's Randi Kaye reported on Erika's journey and turned to AC360° viewers for help finding the woman who saved Brannock's life.
The only information available was that the good Samaritan's name was Joan and she was from California. We also had a photo showing the profile of the woman by Brannock's side after the blast. It wasn't a lot to go on.
Shortly after that story aired, there was a remarkable development: We found Joan! Well, technically, Joan found us. An e-mail sent to email@example.com arrived at 11:02 p.m. with the subject line, "That's me!"
The hero's name is actually Amanda North, and she is from California. In the confusion and mayhem, Brannock had heard the name "Joan," and North thought Brannock's name was "Irene."
North didn't see the segment air, but friends texted her telling her about our search. We also received e-mails from her niece, sister-in-law and another person confirming the identity of the woman in the photo.
North was at the marathon to cheer for her daughter, a student at Harvard. She told Kaye that her life was also transformed that fateful day, and it was Brannock who saved her.
On Wednesday, the two women will be reunited. Both are eager to meet. After surviving the chaotic aftermath of the attack together, they share a deep bond.
Don't miss Kaye's report on the emotional reunion at 8 and 10 p.m. ET on CNN.
If you'd like to help Brannock cover the cost of some of her medical bills, her friends have established the Erika Brannock Fund to collect donations.
Erika and Amanda exchange special gifts.
Erika hugs her hero.
Erika's mom thanks Amanda for saving her daughter's life.
A heavenly-sent Samaritan!!! God bless you for saving her life. Thanks for sharing the story :)
Great example of the human spirit.
If you hate that these victims have to pay for their own medical bills...blame the system – not just the "government." When $$ are involved, everyone gets their greedy hands into the pot – govt, doctors, insurance, drug companies. That's what happens when lobbyists control things. A handful controlling the fate of the many.
Great story and more of the same please they are soo needed.
thank you Amanda.
These poor people should not have to pay one cent for their medical care. The government should be ashamed that these people have to pay. They have had their lives lives destroyed by no fault of their own. Really makes me upset that they have to beg for money or their insurance will not pay. How sad to be further penalized and totally unfair.
This article made me feel an emotion.
Why would Erika Brannock or any victim of the Boston bombing when the pos terrorist was treated in the same hospital and most certainly won't be paying his medical bills?
There appear to be miniature Ninja onion cutters in my keyboard.
Seriously, that is beautiful. And I love it when a media outlet can help affect good in the world. I only read about "Joan" (Amanda) yesterday and was so hoping she would be found. Good work, CNN.
Sadly, in all wars, civilians get killed. 'Collateral damage'.
During most US wars the civilians are killed far far away from America.
This time, it was on our soil. No difference. That's the price we pay for waging war.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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