Medical officials are saying a hiker lost in a whiteout at a Washington State Park “came back from the dead” after being rescued. Doctors say the hiker, 45-year-old Michael Knapinski, “died” at Harborview Medical Center before making an astonishing recovery.
Dr. Jenelle Badulak says the man had a pulse upon arriving at the hospital but that his heart came to a stop after that, the New York Post reports.
“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,” Budulak says. “Which is the most advanced form of artificial life support that we have in the world”
The 45-year-old was hiking with a friend in the park when the two got separated near the Muir Snowfield. Reports say they had plans to meet back up at a location known as Paradise that resides on the south slope of the mountain.
Hiker Lucky To Be Alive
Speaking to the Seattle Times, the hiker says conditions became harsh making it impossible to see the path he was on.
“I was pretty close to the end,” he said of the ordeal. “Then it turned to whiteout conditions, and I couldn’t see anything. I’m not sure what happened. I think I fell.”
Knapinski’s hiking partner reported him missing when he failed to reach the meeting point. The National Park Service sent three teams in an attempt to locate him. Frigid temperatures reaching 16 degrees made the search all the more difficult.
The missing hiker was eventually located in a river drainage area by a search helicopter. He was then transported to Harborview Medical Center, arriving unconscious.
Personnel at the medical facility administered CPR and hooked him to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine. The machine pumps blood to a heart-lung machine that removes carbon dioxide and sends oxygen-filled blood.