'Sweetie, Where Have You Been?'

After a five-week coma, Bob Woodruff wakes up.

ByABC News
February 23, 2007, 2:38 PM

Feb. 27, 2007— -- "We kept expecting him to wake up. And for weeks and weeks, he didn't," said Dave Woodruff about his younger brother and ABC News anchor, Bob Woodruff.

Bob had lain unconscious for 36 days since he was injured by an IED -- improvised explosive device, or roadside bomb -- in Iraq on Jan. 27, 2006.

Family, friends and colleagues waited anxiously as Bob underwent surgery after surgery, first in Iraq and Germany and then -- within days -- at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Bob's doctors said he'd come close to death three separate times -- during the IED blast, during a dangerous surgery to remove a rock lodged near the carotid artery, and during his battle against pneumonia and sepsis.

Every day, Bethesda doctors offer military families encouragement and the best possible medical care. They gave no less to our ABC journalists.

Doug Vogt, Bob's cameraman, was also brain injured in the attack but was ahead of Bob in recovery. Vogt came to visit Bob when he was in the coma.

"Seeing Bob then was more scary than seeing him inside the APC [Armored Personnel Carrier] bleeding, where I was afraid he would bleed to death," Vogt said.

None of the medical staff could tell the family when or if Bob would wake up. Even if he woke up, there was no way to know what his abilities or personality would be.

"There were good things, there were bad things and there were huge, huge question marks," said Lee Woodruff, Bob's wife.

During those five weeks, Bob showed occasional signs of life.

He struggled to get out of his bed -- even breaking its plastic edge -- and doctors speculated he might be reliving the accident in his mind. The family often had to push an agitated Bob back into bed so that he would not harm himself.

At one point Bob puckered up when his wife asked for a kiss. Doctors celebrated a small victory -- Bob had bilateral control of his face. That would be necessary for Bob to speak again.