A 45-year-old hiker, who went missing in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, United States, has made a miraculous recovery after he got lost in blinding snow and freezing conditions and his heart stopped for 45 minutes. Michael Knapinski went hiking last Saturday.
When Knapinski didn't make it back to the meeting point, his friends reported him missing. After hours of fruitless searching, Knapinski was spotted by a helicopter crew and airlifted to nearest medical centre Harborview in Seattle.
Upon arrival, he was unconscious and had hypothermia, and his pulse was faint, reported NYT quoting an emergency room doctor Nick Johnson. Minutes later, Knapinski's heart stopped.
Knapinski, while pointing out bruises and scrapes on his body, said, "I was pretty close to the end (of the trail) ... Then it turned to whiteout conditions, and I couldn't see anything," Knapinski told The Seattle Times in a phone interview. "I'm not sure what happened. I think I fell."
Knapinski's heart stopped beating for 45 minutes. The medical team performed CPR and hooked Knapinski up to an ECMO machine which pumped blood out of his body to remove carbon dioxide.
Knapinski's heart and lungs recovered in two days and started functioning normally.
Sam Arbabi, the medical director of the surgical intensive care unit at Harborview, said, "He was as dead as somebody gets before they are truly dead." Arbabi added, "For this person to come back and his mental status to be great, it is as miraculous as it gets in medicine."
Arbabi also told that Knapinski had been sedated and kept at a lower temperature to allow his brain and other organs to recover. He said people who are resuscitated by CPR sometimes have impaired cognitive function.
Knapinski said that he's still having some cognitive delays, but is improving. He added that the hospital staff "just didn't give up on me... They did one heck of a job at keeping me alive."