When Justin Smith’s father found him lying face up on a snow bank after a night of having some drinks with friends, he feared the worst. He called the paramedics, and on arrival they hinted that young man could have been dead for some time. But the tenacity of one doctor caused him to perform the unthinkable, he brought Justin back to life.
Dr. Gerald Coleman of Lehigh Valley Hospital-Hazleton knew Justin’s prognosis was grim. Justin had no vital signs, and a coroner was called to retrieve his body. But the doctor and his team knew something could be done and with that, he ordered resuscitation efforts.
After a year, Justin is back to his old life and returned to the hospital to thank the doctors who brought him back from the dead. “I am eternally grateful, and I can honestly never thank you enough,” he said. Coleman called Justin’s experience “a story of survival against all odds.” Others called it a medical miracle.
One nurse recalls her attempt to take Justin’s vitals. She said that his body felt like “a block of concrete.” She said that his face was purple, and his extremities were black. Justin doesn’t remember much of anything besides waking up in the hospital surrounded by family.
To bring Justin back to life, doctors connected him to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine which removed the blood from the body, warmed it, and returned it back to his body. Soon Justin’s heart was beating on its own and eventually, he fully recovered with the minor setback of losing two fingers and two toes.
Coleman labeled the feat as “one of the most amazing resuscitation efforts in modern medicine.” He also discovered that Justin’s body temperature was the lowest of anyone who has ever survived exposure-related hypothermia. In an interview with Standard Speaker, he said, “We may have witnessed a game changer in modern medicine – medicine moves forward in extraordinary cases,” Coleman said. “His survival is a paradigm change in how we resuscitate and how we treat people that suffer from hypothermia.”
Remarkable? Yes indeed!
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