ABC News—October 15, 2014
Over and over, Kathy Gannon has re-lived the decisions that led to her close friend's death — and almost her own — in Afghanistan.
Gannon, a veteran Associated Press correspondent, and Anja Niedringhaus, an award-winning AP photographer from Germany, had negotiated through many stories and many dangers together for five years. But on April 4, as they prepared to cover the presidential election in Afghanistan the next day, an Afghan police commander ripped into them with gunfire.
She keeps asking herself if she could have prevented the tragedy. And the answer is always "No."
"We weren't careless or cavalier about the security arrangements ...," Gannon said in New York last week, in her first interview since the attack. "We really made sure that we had a safe place to stay, we knew who we were traveling with, we knew the area in which we were going. Honestly, I've thought it through so many times — I know neither Anja or I would have done anything differently."
Niedringhaus, 48, died instantly. Gannon, 61, took six bullets through her left arm, left shoulder and right hand.
The months of recovery and therapy since have been grueling. Gannon raves about the care she has received, in particular from Dr. Duretti Fufa, a hand and reconstructive specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Fufa reconstructed Gannon's left arm with bone, fat and muscle from her left leg, attaching nerves and arteries where there was once a six-inch (15-centimeter) hole.
"As horrible as everything was, there were so many times you think, 'My God, I'm so fortunate,'" Gannon said. "Every nerve, even the smallest nerve in my left hand, was intact. How is that possible?"
The doctor in turn praised Gannon for her perseverance.
"She is an incredibly motivated person," Fufa said. "I could not ask for a more motivated and pleasant patient to work with."
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