Four year old
Jimmy Tontlewicz was pulled from
the freezing waters of Lake Michigan
after disappearing under the ice
for more than a half hour.
Thirty year old Murray Brown
was found thirty minutes after
his Jeep crashed upside down in
a chilly creek near Las Vegas,
Two and a half year old Michelle
Funk was rescued from an icy river
in Utah after being submerged
for over an hour!
Each case is a story of perseverance
and medical ingenuity that will
not only affect the patients and
doctors, but will change medical
As neurosurgeon Julian Bailes
likes to say, “There has
never been a drug as protective
as the cold. It’s harnessing
the cold that’s the problem.”
Dr. Bailes was one of the surgeons
who revived Jimmy Tontlewicz.
He is now helping develop a blood
substitute which will enable surgeons
to lower body temperatures and
buy valuable time for operating
on trauma victims with severe
Fortunately for Murray Brown,
his trauma center doctor, Larry
Gentilello, is the inventor of
the Continuous Arterial/Venous
Rewarming Device, a machine designed
specifically for reviving hypothermia
patients. Murray was the first
human to benefit from continuous
Michelle Funk, may be the luckiest
of all. No one else has ever drowned
for over an hour and recovered.
She was not only the first child,
but also the first drowning victim
to be revived using an extracorpeal
rewarming technique pioneered
by her ER doc, Robert Bulte, MD.
Drowning is not uncommon. It’s
the second leading cause of death
from injury among children in
the U.S. Each year over 1,000
children drown and another 5,000
are hospitalized due to near drowning.
One third of the children who
nearly drown will suffer significant
damage. The successful rescues
and revivals of Jimmy, Murray
and Michelle are already helping
save the lives of others.
In each situation, the cold water
helped. In each situation, emergency
rescue teams performed heroic
feats. In each situation, the
attending emergency room doctors
pushed the edge of medical knowledge
and helped their patient overcome
How can anyone survive without
breathing air for such a long
period of time?
Why does extremely cold water
make such a difference for survivors?
What have we learned from these
extraordinary experiences and
how is this knowledge helping
save the lives of others?
In each situation, the drowning,
discovery, rescue and medical
intervention will be retold, chronologically,
through a combination of stylized
reenactments shot on film, news
clips and first person testimonials.
Through on camera interviews,
we’ll meet the survivors
and their families, as well as
the rescue workers, paramedics,
trauma center doctors and nurses,
and medical specialists who helped
save their lives.
As we move from one story to
the next, we’ll compare
the similarities and differences
in each drowning, rescue and recovery.
The doctors leading each medical
team are pioneers and continue
to pursue medical breakthroughs
based on these life changing experiences.
We’ll learn about the inspiration
and history, as well as the science
and medical foundations, behind
these latest revival techniques.
We’ll also take a look
into the future of trauma medicine
and visit with scientists and
doctors who are developing new
procedures and devices to save