A Mount Rainier hiker was ‘essentially dead’ for 45 minutes — until a team of Seattle doctors revived his heart

Michael Knapinski, 45, was placed on life assist after arriving at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, final week. But doctors had been in a position to jumpstart his heart.

“He came back from the dead,” Dr. Jenelle Badulak, an intensive care unit physician at Harborview Medical Center, advised CNN. “It wasn’t a miracle though, it was science.”

The Washington native was climbing within the nationwide park final week when he bought misplaced in below-freezing situations. Navy crews discovered him lifeless, in keeping with CNN affiliate WPVI-TV.

“Michael was unconscious, had extreme hypothermia and his heart stopped shortly after he arrived at the ER,” Badulak advised CNN. “But he did have a pulse and no major injuries so we all immediately thought of ECMO.”

The team of doctors shortly determined he could be the proper affected person for the life assist machine often known as ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), Badulak mentioned. The specialised heart-lung bypass machine removes blood from the physique and runs it via an oxygenator earlier than pumping it again in.

The remedy doesn’t assure restoration however can generally be lifesaving.

Badulak mentioned the explanation the team selected this specific machine — which doctors use sparingly as a result of it requires particular coaching to function — is as a result of Knapinski’s organs had been so cool from the freezing situations that the organs had been in a position to perform with much less oxygen, which primarily buys doctors extra time to restart the heart.

After 45 minutes, the ECMO machine had efficiently gotten Knapinski’s blood flowing. The team then warmed his physique again to a temperature that the heart may perform at and shocked his heart yet another time.

“We knew the heart would start beating again,” Badulak mentioned. “The main concern was his brain and if there had been any permanent damage while his heart was stopped.”

Two days later, Knapinski opened his eyes for the primary time.

“When I woke up, I just really didn’t comprehend what had happened,” mentioned Knapinski, in keeping with WPVI-TV. “I’m extremely grateful to everybody here at the hospital for not giving up on me. I’m alive and breathing.”

Knapinski was discharged after simply eight days within the hospital, and Budak mentioned he’ll make a absolutely restoration.

“In the five years that we’ve had an ECMO program at Harborview, we’ve only had a handful of people walk out of the hospital after hypothermic cardiac arrest. So, Michael’s case is certainly uncommon,” she mentioned. “That guys is going to live for decades.”

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