A Birmingham, Alabama doctor made the decision to risk his life to save someone else’s. Dr. Zenko Hrynkiw was spending Tuesday morning working at Brookwood Medical Center when he received an emergency phone call to be at Trinity Medical Center for brain surgery. Hrynkiw is the only current neurosurgeon at Trinity.
Normally the six mile trip would have been no obstacle for Hrynkiw. He would have simply hopped in his car and made the drive in less than 15 minutes. But the recent wave of cold weather was impacting Birmingham with an unusual condition called “snow”. While more northern states are accustomed to driving in snowy conditions, a simple light dusting of snow was enough to paralyze the unprepared city for a day.
So when Doctor Hrynkiw got the call to come for the emergency brain surgery, the scene of gridlocked cars did not look promising. Based on a text he received from his team at Trinity, the patient’s outlook was very grim. Without surgery there was no hope.
Upon realizing he was not getting far, Doctor Hyrnkiw parked his car and began a walk through the snow and ice. The last communication he had before leaving his car was with Steve Davis, the charge nurse in the neuro intensive care unit at Trinity. Before losing phone contact, Hrynkiw told Davis, “I’m walking.”
For a couple of hours, no one could reach the doctor. Police and emergency teams began a search to find him. The situation began to look hopeless for Hrynkiw and the patient. But without any complications or too much of a struggle, the doctor arrived fully dressed in his scrubs and slip ons. That’s when Davis received a phone call.
“He finally called me and said where’s the patient? What’s the status?” Davis said. “He spoke to the family and went off to surgery.”
The patient received the brain surgery he needed and is in recovery. Only given a 90 percent chance of survival without the surgery, Dr. Hyrkiw saved his life. Although the doctor is choosing to remain humble about the whole situation, it really is phenomenal that he would go to such lengths for a patient.
“It was kind of a nice day for a walk,” quipped the 62-year-old Hrynkiw who has had a liver transplant and walks regularly to stay in shape. Whether it was just a walk in the park or not, a doctor who is willing to walk through the snow to save a patient’s life is a doctor I would not mind having.