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Oddly… Alive!

A climber got awake 45 minutes after his heart stopped beating! Well, this miracle took place in the US on November 7. Forty-five-year-old Michael Knapinski was found frozen in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington State. As he was still clinically alive, the rescuers airlifted him to a hospital in Seattle. However, the doctors confirmed that his heart had stopped working. Knapinski’s heart started again after about 45 minutes, and the hiker woke up two days later.

Knapinski, along with a friend, had been hiking in Mount Rainier National Park on November 7 morning. Later, they decided to split up and to meet again in an area of the park, called Paradise. However, the weather conditions deteriorated, and the climber failed to see where he was going. He tried to take small steps down the mountain, but lost consciousness.

Knapinski recovering at Harborview Medical Centre in Seattle

After receiving the information from his friend, the concerned authorities sent a helicopter to rescue Knapinski. Dr Jenelle Badulak of the Seattle-based hospital said: “Knapinski died while he was in the ER.” He told the press that a medical team decided to perform CPR on him. Later, the doctors hooked the patient up to an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machine in order to pump blood from his body into a heart-lung machine, which removed carbon dioxide, and then back inside him. His heart responded to the treatment after 45 minutes, and Knapinski got back his life a couple of days later.

For her part, Trauma Nurse Whitney Holen stressed: “He was crying and they were crying, and I’m fairly sure I cried a little bit. It was just really special to see someone that we had worked so hard from start to finish to wake up that dramatically and that impressively.

Meanwhile, Knapinski thanked doctors for saving his life, saying that the medical staff had refused to accept he was dead. “They did one heck of a job at keeping me alive,” he added. The climber admitted that he used to be a very unhealthy and sickly person. However, climbing changed his life.

Experts are of the opinion that although extreme cold could kill a person, it could also have a protective effect on the body, in rare circumstances. In case the heart stops at normal body temperatures for quite some time, there is little hope of survival because of brain damage. However, the brain and body can be protected by the cold in freezing temperatures because the condition stops them from degenerating.

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