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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Skier Released

Aired January 9, 2004 - 13:36   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Also, I want to take you over to a story we have been following out of Seattle, and that is the 25-year- old skier that was rescued, you may remember, after four frigid nights in the Central Cascade Range. He's recovering in a hospital today. His doctor is speaking right now.
Let's take a listen.

DR. DAVID HINDBACH, PHYSICIAN: I think the fact that he lived was pretty remarkable. It's pretty scary time to be out there for that long. And I think it's a testimony to how well you can do when you're young and healthy. I'm sure had it been me, although I have a lot more fat to protect me, I would have probably turned into an icicle pretty quick.

What we would consider 40 degrees, about 102, 103 temperature, like a hot tub.

Was it painful?

DAN WITKOWSKI, RESCUED SKIER: No, I think it was soothing.

HINDBACH: Pretty much you lose sensation in your frostbitten areas, so it doesn't hurt much. In fact, you have decreased sensation even in your feet now, don't you?

WITKOWSKI: Uh-huh.

HINDBACH: Well, what recovers by itself will recover by itself and what won't will stay dead, stay dark, and black and like dead tissue, and then we have to take off the dead tissue eventually, but until such time as we're sure what's dead and what's alive, we just kind of leave it alone and treat it conservatively.

No, no, you can't prevent infection by giving antibiotics. All you do is select organisms that are resistant to the antibiotics that you use. So we don't use antibiotics, unless there is an infection, then we treat specific organisms.

From the generalized hypothermia, once you're back, you're back. There's many complications you can have while you're hypothermic. Your heart becomes irritable, and you can have cardiac arrests when you stimulate people, so you have to be very careful dealing with a patient with hypothermia. But once they're warmed up, there's really no particular long-term problems with the hypothermia itself.

PHILLIPS: Dr. David -- actually let's listen to the skier for a moment.

WITKOWSKI: ... about 170, 175 before it all happened, and I'm six feet tall.

PHILLIPS: All right, we thought we were going to hear a little there from Dan Witkowski, the extreme skier that had not been seen since New Year's Eve. He's 25 years old, and he was rescued after four frigid nights in the Central Cascade Range. It was a story that we had been covering. His doctor there by his side, Dr. David Hindbach, just saying it was absolutely amazing that he survived those conditions, and for so many days. Still waiting to learn whether he will lose any fingers or toes to frostbite. These are pictures, obviously, of the videotape we got when that rescue was made. But he's alive, he's well, and happy to be sitting next to his doctor.

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