A Washington man who became lost overnight in freezing conditions while hiking in Mount Rainier National Park last weekend miraculously came back to life after being declared dead for 45 minutes, according to reports. Michael Knapinski, from Woodinville, recalls walking on a snowy hike with a friend on the morning of Nov. 7 when the two suddenly couldn't find each other below the Muir Snowfield, the Seattle Times reported.
“I was pretty close to the end (of the trail). … Then it turned to whiteout conditions, and I couldn’t see anything,” Knapsinski told the outlet. "I'm not sure what happened, I think I fell."
His friend couldn't find him back at the parking lot that evening and reported him missing. A team from the National Park Service searched for Knapsinski until early Sunday when conditions became worse and the temperature dropped to 16 degrees.
Knapinski was eventually found in the Nisqually River drainage. A helicopter brought him to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, the park told the outlet. He was still unconscious, but with a pulse, when he arrived Sunday night.
Then, when he was in the ER, he died.
"[It] 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 said.
Knapinski was dead for 45 minutes before doctors restarted his heart. They repeatedly administered CPR and hooked him up to a life support machine, which pumped blood out of his body into a heart-lung machine. The machine then removed carbon dioxide and administers it back into the body, the outlet reported.
He woke up, two days later, with bruises and scrapes all over his body.
In the following days, his heart and kidneys continued to give him trouble and he suffered from frostbite. He is experiencing some cognitive delays but doctors believe he will be OK.
Knapsinki said that he took up hiking as a way to combat his drug addiction.
"I used to be a very unhealthy, sickly man and I got into hiking and it changed my lifestyle," he said.