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A Mount Rainier hiker was 'essentially dead' for 45 minutes -- until a team of Seattle doctors revived his heart

November 21, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

A hiker who was found in whiteout conditions on Washington's Mount Rainier "came back from the dead," his doctor said, after his heart stopped for 45 minutes.

(CNN)A hiker who was found in whiteout conditions on Washington's Mount Rainier "came back from the dead," his doctor said, after his heart stopped for 45 minutes.

Michael Knapinski, 45, was put on life support after arriving at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, last week.

"He came back from the dead," Dr. Jenelle Badulak, an intensive care unit doctor at Harborview Medical Center, told CNN.

"Michael was unconscious, had extreme hypothermia and his heart stopped shortly after he arrived at the ER," Badulak told CNN.

The team of doctors quickly decided he would be the perfect patient for the life support machine known as ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), Badulak said.

Badulak said the reason the team chose this particular machine -- which doctors use sparingly because it requires special training to operate -- is because Knapinski's organs were so cool from the freezing conditions that the organs were able to function with less oxygen, which essentially buys doctors more time to restart the heart.

After 45 minutes, the ECMO machine had successfully gotten Knapinski's blood flowing.

"We knew the heart would start beating again," Badulak said.

"When I woke up, I just really didn't comprehend what had happened," said Knapinski, according to WPVI-TV.

Knapinski was discharged after just eight days in the hospital, and Budak said he will make a fully recovery.

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