Young man found frozen thanks those who saved his life

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Ken Rosato reporting (WABC)

It was a heart-warming reunion Monday at Lehigh Valley Health Network.

A man who nearly froze to death last year came back to thank the healthcare workers who saved him.

Justin Smith of McAdoo, Pa., is alive today thanks to quick thinking first-responders and committed doctors and nurses.

Last February, after Justin didn't come home from an evening with friends at the local fire hall, his father went out searching for him.

Don Smith found his son lying unconscious in a snow bank.

He had been out through the night when the temperature dipped four degrees below zero.

"I started shaking him, saying you can't leave me, you can't leave me," Smith recalls.

A paramedic summoned to the scene remembers, "In this particular instance, the coroner had already been called."

A recording of the audio exchange between the paramedics and the emergency room at Lehigh Valley Health Hazleton hospital gives a chilling account.

"All signs lead us to believe he's been dead for a considerable amount of time," said the paramedics.

But Doctor Gerald Coleman of LVH Hazleton thought there could be a chance.

He had a team waiting to at least try to resuscitate Justin.

They performed CPR for hours, as they slowly started re-warming Justin's stiff, cold body.

He was air-lifted to the Cedar Crest campus in Allentown, where doctors used an ECMO machine to circulate and give oxygen to his blood.

Then, his heart started beating on its own.

Over the next few days, doctors say his brain miraculously went from showing no activity to normal activity.

He lost his toes and pinky fingers, but has since made a near complete recovery.

"The love that these doctors showed me at Lehigh Valley Network. I just wanted to thank every single person who had a part in this," said Justin today.

"It's amazing and life is good now, you know," he continued.

Many of the doctors, nurses, and technicians involved say they felt like they were witnessing a miracle.

Justin did have to re-learn how to use his hands without pinky fingers and how to walk with no toes.

He doesn't remember what exactly happened that night, but he is grateful to be here today.
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