A 45-year-old man came back to life after being ‘dead’ for 45 minutes.
Michael Knapinski, a hiker on Mount Rainer, does not remember much after he fell and got lost on the mountain on November 7.
But when he woke up 45 minutes after his heart and lungs stopped, he saw his family crying, and the medical teams also had tears in their eyes.
Dr. Saman Arbabi, the medical director of Harborview’s surgical intensive-care unit in Seattle, described Knapinski’s recovery as ‘amazing.’
“He came back from the dead,” Dr. Arbabi said. “Maybe not medically quite correct, but his heart wasn’t beating for more than 45 minutes. It’s amazing.”
The hiker’s ordeal started on Saturday when he set off on a hike in Mount Rainier National Park with his friend.
He and his pal decided to separate below the Muir Snowfield and agreed to meet up at Paradise, an area around 5,400 feet on the south slope.
In an interview with The Seattle Times, Knapinski said: “I was pretty close to the end. Then it turned to whiteout conditions, and I couldn’t see anything.”
“I’m not sure what happened,” he added, saying that the last thing he remembered was doing down the mountain on his snowshoes.
“I think I fell,” he said as he had unexplained scratches and bruises.
When Knapinski did not show up at their meeting place, his friend reported him missing and three rescue teams searched for him overnight.
Dr. Jenelle Badulak said: “He died while he was in the ER, which gave us the unique opportunity to try and save his life by basically bypassing his heart and lungs, which is the most advanced form of artificial life support that we have in the world.”
Knapinski remained dead for 45 long minutes while medics administered CPR and connected him to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine.
The medical team spent the whole night by his side after they managed to restart his heart.
Whitney Holen, one of the nurses, told The Seattle Times that she had been at the hospital for more than ten years but Knapinski’s case will always be one of the highlights of her career.
“He was crying and they were crying and I’m fairly sure I cried a little bit,” she expressed.
“It was just really special to see someone that we had worked so hard on from start to finish to then wake up that dramatically and that impressively.
“It reminded me of this is why we do this. This is why we are doing the long hours, this is why we’re away from our families, this is why we’re here.”
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