Doctors recently brought a lost hiker back to life after he was rescued from whiteout conditions on Washington’s Mount Rainier.
“Hiker Michael Knapinski was lifeless when Navy crews found him in Mount Rainier National Park last weekend. He was lost overnight in below-freezing conditions,” ABC 6 reported.
The rescue team flew the 45-year-old to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center, but when he arrived his pulse stopped.
“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,” Dr. Jenelle Badulak told the Seattle Times.
Knapinksi was dead for about 45 minutes while medical personnel administered CPR and used an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine on him.
“In that process, blood is pumped outside of the body to a heart-lung machine that removes carbon dioxide and sends oxygen-filled blood back to tissues in the body,” the Times article read.
Once they restarted Knapinski’s heart, the team spent all night making sure he was stabilized. Two days later, trauma nurse Whitney Holen was sitting beside him when he opened his eyes.
“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,” Holen recalled.
Following the ordeal, Knapinski expressed his thanks to the medical staff who saved his life.
“I’m extremely grateful to everybody here at the hospital for not giving up on me. I’m alive and breathing,” he commented.
The hiker, who spends a lot of time volunteering with the Salvation Army Food Bank in Seattle and building homes for foster kids with Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, said when he is physically able, “that’s going to be my calling in life.”
“Just helping people. … I’m still just shocked and amazed,” Knapinski continued.
Although he is still in the hospital and may need physical therapy, doctors are hopeful he will make a full recovery.