The survival story of a 22-month-old boy from Pennsylvania has been hailed by doctors as extraordinary after his lifeless body was revived after it was found in an icy creek.
On March 11, Gardell Martin was playing with his brothers when he fell into an icy stream that runs near his family's home. The boy was swept away by the current, prompting his older brother Greg to run to the house screaming that he could not find his sibling.
The boys' mother Rose Martin first searched the property until she realized that her son may have fallen into the creek. She called 911 for help while her two older daughters walked downstream to search for their younger brother.
A neighbor eventually found Gardell in a tree branch with water gushing around the toddler almost a quarter of a mile away. The child did not have a pulse nor was he breathing. Ambulance crew arrived moments later and, finding that the boy had no pulse, gave him CPR.
For 101 minutes, the boy was continuously resuscitated in the ambulance, at a community hospital, while flying aboard a medical helicopter and in an emergency room at the pediatric wing of the Geisinger Medical Center.
The temperature of Gardell's body was 77 degrees when he arrived at the hospital and this was over 20 degrees below normal. The boy's hypothermia, however, worked to his advantage as this dramatically slowed down his metabolism and helped protect his organs from cardiac arrest.
Frank Maffei, director of the Geisinger's Janet Weis Children's Hospital's pediatric intensive care unit took advantage of the boy's condition to save him and ordered that CPR continue while the boy's body was slowly warmed.
Finally, at around 82 degrees, the team detected a pulse and the boy's heart restarted. In a few hours, the boy regained consciousness. Remarkably, Gardell's brain function was also normal, which surprised the doctors.
"In my 23 years, I have not seen an hour-and-41-minutes comeback to this degree of neurological recovery," Maffei said, crediting people's efforts in bringing back Gardell to life. "That doesn't happen by accident. It happens because people are trained."
Alexandre Rotta from the UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland said that Gardell's case shows how hypothermia can help protect the body when the heart stops. He explained that at 77 degrees, the body only requires 30 percent of the normal oxygen intake and this can help preserve the organs. Rotta added that this gave doctors more time to resuscitate the boy before a permanent organ damage occurred.