The Drs: Frozen Solid For Ten Hours + Incredible Survival Story


The Doctors: Man Frozen Solid For Ten Hours

Don Smith, Justin’s father, shared that he woke up one morning and saw that his son wasn’t home. He saw a missed call from Justin’s friend, and when he returned the call, Justin’s friend said she was really worried. As Don was driving around looking for his son, he found him laying face-up on the side of the road, in the snow. Don began shaking his son, yelling “you can’t leave me!” The coroner was called and a sheet was put over Justin. Emmett Thomas, a paramedic, spoke to an ER doctor, sharing that a 25-year-old male was found lying in a snow bank, adding that “all signs lead to, lead us to believe, he’s been dead for a considerable amount of time.”


Dr Gerald Coleman then told the paramedic that because of his age and the fact that he had induced hypothermia, he didn’t feel comfortable “to call him.” Justin had been in sub-zero temperatures for about ten hours. Dr Coleman gathered a medical team of 10 nurses and doctors, and Nicole Ditzler, a nurse, described his extremities as feeling like a block of concrete.

The Drs: Frozen Solid For Ten Hours + Incredible Survival Story

The Doctors shared the incredible story of a man who was frozen solid for ten hours but miraculously survived thanks to a determined medical team. (ladydragonflyherworld / Flickr)

Dr Coleman asked Don for his permission to do a potassium check, and when he found that his potassium was normal, Don had what Dr Coleman called “a flicker of hope in his eye.”


The Doctors: Attempting To Save Man Found Frozen

Justin’s body was then airlifted to another hospital, while his family prayed for a miracle. Tim Hickey, a MedEvac flight crew member, explained that doctors wanted to put Justin on ECMO, which is a procedure that adds oxygen and removes CO2 from the blood to keep the tissue from dying. Doctors continued to perform CPR while Justin was in the helicopter, and Justin’s family was told that Justin’s chances of surviving were less than 50%. Dr James Wu shocked Justin, causing his heart to start pumping again.

Sissy, Justin’s mother, recalled when Justin came out of the operating room. His arms and feet were black. Dr Coleman explained that the brain exam showed very little function at all, but the EEG was almost normal. He told the family that no one in that condition had ever recovered.

The Doctors: Man Survived After Being Frozen For Ten Hours

Justin’s family joined the show, and Don described the day he found Justin the worst day of his life. He was amazed at how things ended up working out. Dr Travis Stork explained that when it comes to prolonged cardiac arrest, there’s a good chance neurological function wouldn’t be restored. His family never gave up hope, saying they would take him in any condition as long as they had him. What’s most incredible is that Justin was there to join the show that day.

Justin shared that it’s unbelievable to realize that eleven months ago he was dead, and now he was there today. Justin shared that he had walked that road often times, but that night, he didn’t make it. He has no recollection of everything he went through. It was negative four degrees outside, and he knows now he probably shouldn’t have walked that night. He acknowledged how lucky he was and how blessed he was to be surrounded by such great people.

The Doctors: ER Doctor Saved Frozen Man’s Life

The Doctors then welcomed Dr Coleman, the ER doctor who saved Justin’s life, to the show. Dr Stork pointed out that, during an ER shift, Dr Coleman easily could have asked just a few questions and then pronounced Justin dead, but instead he chose to put in the effort to save his life. Dr Coleman also shared that on that day, it was the nine-year anniversary of his daughter’s death. Because of that, he knew that if he ever had the opportunity to make a difference, he would do everything he could.

When Justin arrived at the ER, his chest was frozen solid. He explained that CPR is exhausting just after 2-3 minutes, so he had to have everyone on hand, including nurses, housekeeping, and security perform CPR on Justin in an effort to save his life. Dr Coleman described it as “the case of a lifetime.”

The Doctors: Surprise For Man Who Survived After Being Frozen Solid

Justin expressed indescribable gratitude to the medical team who saved his life. He then shared that he had to have his toes and pinky fingers amputated. He hasn’t been able to get a prosthetic that works for his feet, but he still loves to golf, although it’s now more difficult for him. The Doctors surprised Justin with a video from Phil Mickelson, who told Justin he admired him and was pulling for him. “That’s my man right there,” Justin said. “That’s like the coolest thing that ever happened in my life.”

He also got a new set of clubs from as well as $1,000 for new gear. The Doctors also reached out to the Center for Custom Prosthetics and they agreed to fly him to Florida to meet with Dr David Trainer, who is going to create prosthetics specifically for Justin, valued at more than $40,000, free of charge.


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