Surrounded by his family and friends Richard Donohue JR had a lot to be grateful for this Christmas season. The MBTA Transit police officer almost lost his life in April.
Donohue was honored by IrishCentral at our Irish Heroes event in Boston in November. He spent a year in Limerick studying and his family come from Leitrim and Tipperary.
The officer took a bullet to his groin during a gun battle as law enforcement officials closed in on the Boston Marathon bombing suspects – the Tsarnaev brothers. He was considered beyond help at the scene but made a miraculous recovery.
Speaking of his recovery from his home he said “It was a little funky at first but then I started to get better. I had nerve damage to my left leg and then the foot, but it’s shrinking. It just takes time.”
This Christmas Donohue is grateful “to be alive.” The Boston Herald reports that Donohue underwent hip surgery, a minor setback that has him back on crutches, but the determined officer has come a long way since.
He doesn’t remember much of what happened on that harrowing April night when a bullet severed an artery in his leg, he lost nearly all his blood and his heart stopped.
“He’s been able to drive, hit the gym, take his beagle, Waylo, out for short walks and wrestle and play ball with his son,” added Donohue’s wife.
He spent 28 days at Mount Auburn Hospital before heading to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. He returned home June 14.
“I’m lucky,” Donohue said. “I used all my luck up that night.”
Eyewitness accounts from the chaotic Watertown firefight between law enforcement and the suspected Boston bombers claim that transit police officer Richard Donohue was almost killed in a hail of gunfire unleashed by his colleagues.
The MBTA officer was hit in his upper thigh as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, made his getaway in a stolen black Mercedes SUV and residents of the quiet town have revealed that Donohue appeared to be the victim of 'friendly fire.'
Donohue said “It doesn’t bother me who it was, the job got done and we are lucky more good guys didn’t get hurt.”
Donohue says he’s far from “100 percent” physically and has nerve pain in his left foot, but he’s upbeat and feels a lot better.
“I’m doing pretty good. I’m on the road to recovery,” he said. “I still have a few physical challenges to overcome.”
Before he was shot, Donohue had planned to run a marathon – and he’d love to run the Boston Marathon. “I don’t want a handout though,” said the humble Donohue. “I want to make it on the time qualification.”
The brave police officer will be enjoying a quiet Christmas at home with his wife and one year old son. And there’s one little boy who’s going to have a very special Christmas as Santa has brought him a sled and Donohue can’t wait to bond with his son this festive season.
Speaking about the events surrounding his shooting in April Donohue said, “I still have no memory of what happened but from what I hear it was chaos."
What he does know is that he was shot in the right groin area, which severed a femoral artery. Donohue explains, “I was bleeding out and was lifeless for about forty minutes“.
It was only because of the quick thinking and fast action of his colleagues that he survived. The officer was rushed to Mount Auburn Hospital where surgeons operated on him, transferring, in total, 26 units of blood into his body.
Amazingly, Donohue survived this ordeal and has been able to return home to his wife Kimberly and one-year-old son Richard Donohue III. However, the police officer is still unable to return to the job he loves as he is in need of a lot of medical care. The bullet that caused him to be hospitalized for two months and nearly caused his death remains embedded in his right leg.
In conversation with Donohue about how the events have impacted his life, he says “the notoriety is very strange…. I would trade it all in for a normal day.“
Despite speculation that he was hit by friendly fire, Donohue says of the investigation into the events of his shooting, “My answer remains the same, the law was accomplished in 24 hours and the job got done.”
Officer Donohue’s family came to America in the late 1800’s from Leitrim and Tipperary and whilst it has been a few generations since the first Donohues arrived in this country, the men in his family have kept the Irish tradition and are “policemen or firefighters.”
Donohue has also spent a year living in Ireland when he attended the University of Limerick to complete his Masters in International Tourism, a period of his life he enjoyed so much so he returned to the city with his wife to celebrate her 30th birthday.