A 22-month-old Pennsylvania boy who went 101 minutes without a pulse after nearly drowning has shown a nearly complete recovery, and doctors say it’s a miracle.
“It’s not only extraordinarily rare that we got the kid back, but what’s even more extraordinary is the rate at which he recovered and the completeness of his recovery,” Dr. Frank Maffei, director of the pediatric intensive care unit at Geisinger’s Janet Weis Children’s Hospital in Danville, told the Associated Press.
“The stars and moon aligned, and he had an angel on his shoulder.”
On Sunday, March 11, Gardell and his older brothers were outside playing on the family’s property near Mifflinburg.
Gardell fell into a creek running through the five-acre spread and was swept away. One of his brothers scrambled inside the house and told his mother, Rose Martin.
She called 911 and, along with her two daughters, began a frantic search of the property for the toddler.
A neighbor spotted Gardell snagged by a tree branch a quarter-mile downstream. Frigid water from recently melted snow was rushing up all around him.
Parademics arrived soon after and began trying to resuscitate the boy. They commenced CPR after finding no pulse — a process which lasted an excruciating 101 minutes. Thirty medical professionals worked on Gardell in total. During that one hour, 41-minute stretch he was transported in an ambulance, went into an emergency room, was flown via emergency helicopter and was eventually treated at Geisinger’s pediatric unit.
Hypothermia lowered his body temperature to 77 degrees.
Though 20-plus degrees below normal, that and his age may have helped Gardell survive. According to Maffei, the extremely low temperature provided “some degree of protection from cardiac arrest.”
Maffei raised Gardell’s body temperature slowly. Medical staff began detecting a heartbeat when he reached 82 degrees. He regained consciousness several hours later.
Dr. Richard Lambert, one of the physicians who worked on Gardell, said his survival and recovery fell into a “rare, rare, extreme category.”
The against-all odds resuscitation “provides us with a smile on our face, knowing you were part of something this wonderful and amazing,” he told the AP.
“It was an act of God,” said Rose Martin. “There is no doubt in my mind it’s a miracle. God had the right people in the right place at the right time and they all did a wonderful job.”
While official statistics on cases similar to Gardell’s are not readily available, recent news stories of patients without pulses indicate that his survival is indeed extremely rare.
Last month, a 14-year-old Missouri boy was without a pulse for 45 minutes after falling through an ice-covered pond.
In November, a Florida woman survived without a pulse for 45 minutes after she suffered complications while giving birth.
In 2011, a Minnesota man survived 96 minutes without a pulse after collapsing on the sidewalk.