The weather turned “into whiteout conditions,” Mr Knapinski said, adding: “I couldn’t see anything.” The last thing he remembers before passing out is taking baby steps up the mountain, the newspaper reported.
“I’m not sure what happened,” he said. “I think I fell.
The life support device used by the hospital to treat Mr Knapinski is known as ECMO, and it is used sparingly because it requires special training to operate, said Dr Jenelle Badulak, doctor of the intensive care unit at Harborview. It is sometimes used for coronavirus patients whose lung function is less than 20% and who do not improve on a ventilator.
Treatment, however, does not guarantee a cure. But sometimes, she says, it can save a life.
Dr Johnson, who treated Mr Knapinski, said cooler temperatures have been shown to “protect the brain and improve outcomes after cardiac arrest or when the heart stops.”
“We thought he was cold, besides being a young, fit guy who climbed a mountain before that, he was a great candidate for this aggressive treatment,” Dr Johnson said.
As his organs began to resume their functions, Mr Knapinski was removed from ECMO on Tuesday.
That night, Dr Arbabi received a page from Whitney Holen, a trauma nurse in the Harborview Intensive Care Unit who was caring for Mr Knapinski. It’s usually a sign of disaster, but Ms Holen’s voice was full of joy when she reported that ‘our mountain man’ opened his eyes and smiled, he said.
About two hours after being removed from the life support system, Mr Knapinski was lying in his hospital bed, apparently unconscious, Ms Holen said in an interview. Before starting another sedation treatment, she gently spoke her name.
Her eyes opened, she said, and tears began to roll down her cheeks. He wiggled his toes and threw up. Unable to speak due to a breathing tube, he made a request to speak to his mother.