Nearly two months after he was shot while pursuing the alleged Boston Marathon bombers, Officer Richard Donohue Jr. of the MBTA Transit Police was finally sent home from Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital on Friday, but he does not know when he will return to work.
Donohue, 33, said he hopes to return to his job as soon as he is medically able. His wife, Kim, said she knows his return to law enforcement will be challenging for her.
“That’ll be a tough day for me . . . a proud day, but a tough day,” Kim Donohue said.
Donohue departed for his home in Woburn, 20 pounds lighter but grateful for his recovery. At a press conference preceding his departure, Donohue told reporters about all the things he was looking forward to doing when he got home: sleeping in a bigger bed; cooking chicken parmesan; and spending some quality time with his 7-month-old son, who visits the hospital on weekends.
“I swear, every time I see him, he’s got another tooth,” Donohue joked. “He has more teeth than me.”
Donohue arrived in the hospital lobby in a wheelchair, then stood with little apparent difficulty to grasp a pair of crutches. With extensive physical therapy, he is now able to take a few steps without aid or walk short distances with crutches or a cane.
“My body’s definitely improving, but with that comes some pain and a few aches,” Donohue said.
Donohue, who graduated from the police academy in 2010, said he continues to have no recollection of the night that he was shot; his last memory, he said, was arriving for his shift at 1:30 p.m. that afternoon. He has not learned anything further on whether he was hit by friendly fire.
That night, Donohue arrived in Watertown to aid in a shoot-out between law enforcement officers and the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. He was shot in the right groin area, which severed a femoral artery, causing severe blood loss. When his wife arrived at Mount Auburn Hospital, doctors told her they had just been able to bring back his pulse.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in the shootout, and his brother fled. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured later in Watertown.
Superintendent in Chief Joseph O’Connor of the MBTA Transit Police said Friday that he expects Donohue will be able to return to work, though there is no timetable set for when he will start back at the job.
“He has been through a horrific experience, and he has made incredible progress in an incredibly short period of time,” O’Connor said. “We’re just happy to see that he’s progressing and that we’re able to get him home to his family.”
For now, Donohue said, he is simply looking to get reacquainted with the finer points of living at home.
“I’ll go home and start putting the pounds back on,” Donohue said. “I’ve got to hit the gym, as well, I’ve got to put it back in the right place.”
And then there’s the dog.
“I’m probably going to get attacked by my beagle,” he joked.
Waylon, named after a country star, has been miserable for the past two months, Donohue and his wife said, refusing to eat and sleeping in Donohue’s spot on their bed.
“I think he’s been a little depressed,” Donohue said.
“He’s suffered the worst out of anybody,” his wife added.
Kim Donohue said she is looking forward to regaining some normalcy to the couple’s lives together. Their last two months, she said, has been like a story line straight out of “While You Were Sleeping.”
“I don’t know if we’ve had our ‘holy cow’ moment yet, but we will when we get home and sit there with our son and think, ‘Oh my goodness, what just happened?’ ” she said.
But the past two months have not just been painful memories, Donohue said. Last week, he carried the flag on the ice before a game played by his beloved Boston Bruins.
“I was just afraid . . . I didn’t want to drop it or have it hit the ground,” Donohue said. “I was kind of just caught up in the moment. Seeing myself on the Jumbotron screen was kind of surreal.”
Now that the team is in the Stanley Cup Final, he’s got a lot of cheering on his agenda.
“We didn’t get it the other night,” he said, “but we’ve got six games to go.”
He’s confident, he said, that the team will recover.Martine Powers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MartinePowers.