A Washington hiker was miraculously revived after his heart stopped beating for 45 minutes following a freezing ordeal on Mount Rainier, Washington.
Michael Knapinski, 45, doesn’t remember much of what happened to him after he fell unconscious while on the road to a meeting spot in Paradise where his friend waited for him.
That same friend reported Knapinski missing shortly afterward and a rescue team found him lifeless down the mountain.
He was rushed to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle where doctors decided to use a recent life-saving machine on him.
“Michael was unconscious, had extreme hypothermia and his heart stopped shortly after he arrived at the ER,” Dr. Jenelle Budulak said.
“But, he did have a pulse and no major injuries so we all immediately thought of EMCO.”
The EMCO treatment has been available since 2013. It removes blood from the patient and runs it through an oxygenator and then pumps it back into the body.
The doctors were optimistic regarding Knapinski’s rescue operation since his main organs were extremely cold, and therefore wouldn’t be damaged as the EMCO worked.
“We knew the heart would start beating again,” Budulak said.
“The main concern was his brain and if there had been any permanent damage while his heart was stopped.”
Two days later, Knapinski regained consciousness: “When I woke up, I just really didn’t comprehend what had happened,” he said.
“I’m extremely grateful to everybody here at the hospital for not giving up on me. I’m alive and breathing.”