"It's a Miracle": Boston Bombing Survivor Returns Home

John Odom flat-lined twice during his months-long recovery

By Hetty Chang
|  Friday, Sep 6, 2013  |  Updated 9:59 PM PDT
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John Odom was just 10 feet from the first bomb that went off during the Boston Marathon. He suffered critical injuries to his legs and underwent nearly a dozen surgeries in four weeks -- a grueling ordeal that he says he doesn't remember. His wife calls his homecoming just in time for their 46th wedding anniversary

Hetty Chang

John Odom was just 10 feet from the first bomb that went off during the Boston Marathon. He suffered critical injuries to his legs and underwent nearly a dozen surgeries in four weeks -- a grueling ordeal that he says he doesn't remember. His wife calls his homecoming just in time for their 46th wedding anniversary "truly a miracle." Hetty Chang reports from El Segundo for NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Sept. 6, 2013.

A Southern California man left for Boston in April to watch his daughter cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon.

Never did he or his family imagine it would take him five months to get home.

John Odom, of Torrance, made that triumphant homecoming Friday.

Possibly the longest hospitalized victim of the April 15 marathon bombings, Odom was 10 feet away from the first explosion.

He suffered critical injuries and severed arteries in both legs, and underwent nearly a dozen surgeries in four weeks. He said he doesn’t remember any of it.

“At first, I didn’t think I would ever get out of bed,” Odom said.

But with the help of a cane – and his wife Karen who has been by his side for his entire recovery – Odom walked into the airport Friday afternoon, greeted by dozens of family and friends who gave him a hero's welcome.

"This is a miracle," Karen Odom said, holding back tears. "From telling me they didn't know if he'd ever make it, to if he made it, he probably wouldn't walk."

"He arrested twice on the operating table, so truly this is a miracle."

Odom’s wife, son and son-in-law were all standing nearby when the bombs off at the finish line, but they escaped serious injuries. They used pieces of clothing and a belt to help stop Odom’s bleeding.

“You wouldn't believe it from where he was when they put him in that ambulance," Odom's son, Don, said of his father’s remarkable recovery. "The days after that, what he went through. He flat-lined twice and they brought him back."

At his homecoming party at his nephew's restaurant, Beach Mex in El Segundo, John Odom recalled what he thought were his last moments.

"As I laid there on the ground, I could feel the blood rushing out of my legs," he said. "I was laying there, I thought, this is where I'm going to die."

"Four weeks later, I woke up."

After nearly a dozen surgeries, Odom woke up to his family by his side and unwavering support from across the world.

Support from his loved ones, he said, is exactly why he's alive today.

"I've been thinking about this for a while now, of how it was going to be," he said with a smile at his homecoming party. "And this is exactly how I envisioned this. Family is everything."

Odom missed his own retirement party at consulting firm Murray Company while he was recovering. But Odom, it seems, has had a change of heart. He said he plans on returning to work on Monday.

The Odoms celebrate their 46th wedding anniversary on Sunday.

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