Dr Oz: Chris LaPak Medical Miracle + Therapeutic Hypothermia

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Dr Oz: Dead For 13 Minutes

Dr Oz shared the story of Chris LaPak, whose heart stopped for 13 minutes in the middle of New York City’s Hudson river. Renee, Chris’ wife, shared that the day her husband died, he was in the best shape of his life. Both of Chris’ parents died at a young age, so he wanted to do everything he could to outrun his genetics. He decided the New York City triathlon would be his next endeavor, so he trained for over a year.

Dr Oz: Chris LaPak Medical Miracle + Therapeutic Hypothermia

Dr Oz talked to a man who was clinically dead for 13 minutes but managed to survive going into cardiac arrest during a triathlon. (BlueRingMedia / Shutterstock.com)

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The day of the triathlon, his family lost track of him as soon as he jumped into the water. But Chris actually went into cardiac arrest. A lifeguard named Matt swam out to Chris, who at that point was “totally lifeless” and was a “shade of purple” with his muscles completely contracted. Chris was brought to shore and rushed onto an ambulance.

Dr Oz: Man Survived Death During Triathlon

Chris was clinically dead when he was pulled out of the water. He had no pulse and wasn’t breathing. He was intubated and shocked with a defibrillator. He flatlined twice, but after 10 minutes they were able to restore his heart rate and breathing. By the time he got to the hospital, he was given a slim chance of survival.

Dr Eyal Herzog knew they had to preserve his brain while they tried to fix his heart. Chris was placed into a coma for three days while his body temperature was lowered. Dr Herzog said Chris’ chance of survival with normal neurological recovery was 1-3%. His family didn’t think he would make it, but three days later Chris opened his eyes.

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Dr Oz: Chris LaPak Cardiac Arrest

Renee joined Dr Oz and said that when she and her kids had to gather around her husband Chris and say their final goodbyes, it was the hardest thing she ever imagined she would have to do. The amazing thing is that Chris is the only person that doctors are aware of who went into cardiac arrest while in the water and survived. He was on the show to share his story.

Chris said he woke up in the hospital and looked around. Dr Herzog asked if he knew what happened to him and he said no. Dr Herzog told him, “You died during the triathlon.” He said he was completely shocked.

Dr Oz: Therapeutic Hypothermia

Dr Oz explained that Chris had two fully blocked arteries that had probably been nearly blocked for a while. When the stress of the race caused them to completely block off, that’s when he went into cardiac arrest. Dr Herzog called it a miracle and said Chris benefited from the systems of care that were in place. They activated their own cardiac arrest system that they have in place at Mount Sinai and they started therapeutic hypothermia immediately to cool Chris’ body temperature down in order to protect the brain.

He said there are two methods they could do, either surface cooling or co-cooling, which is where catheters provide cooling for the body. They used co-cooling on Chris, who eventually underwent open-heart surgery. Before he was discharged, they had to insert a defibrillator to protect his heart from stopping again in the future.

Dr Oz: What Is Therapeutic Hypothermia?

Dr Oz explained that therapeutic hypothermia is when the body is cooled down from the inside, in order to slow the metabolism down and preserve the organs to control damage to them. The therapy basically gives the patient a second chance at life.

Chris said since he’s been given the second chance, he’s trying to enjoy things a little more than he used to. He said the next chapter of his life is about celebrating his life.

Dr Oz: Medical Miracle

Chris said there was an incredible chain of miracles that led to his life being saved. He started by explaining that there were 3,000 swimmers in the water, most of whom were wearing dark black wet suits. It was also dark out, making it hard to see. He started to slip under the surface. Miraculously someone saw him and, with the help of another swimmer, pulled him up onto a surfboard. Then on the surfboard they started to do CPR until a jet ski got there. The jet ski took him to a boat which then took him to an ambulance. He was taken to one hospital, then another one, until he received the therapy.

Chris pointed out that Dr Herzog is never in the hospital on Sundays and yet he happened to be there when Chris got there, preparing for a seminar he was teaching. He said there were many miracles, but at the end of the day, it was the system and the people doing exactly what they were trained to do.

Dr Oz: Man Cheated Death

“I don’t know why me,” Chris said. “Am I special? Am I unique? No. There’s obviously some other plan for me. There’s something I’m supposed to do. Whether it’s educating people on fitness and taking care of themselves, whether it’s just carrying the message of being the best person you can be every day, I don’t know why I’m here… By all rights I should be dead.”

Dr Oz then shared a quote that Chris says he lives by: “The quality of my life is determined by how well I manage my fear.”

Chris said fear is just put in front of us to see how committed we are to achieve the things we want to achieve in our lives. He said if you’re not committed, you’re going to let it stop you from doing what you want to do.

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