You Only Live Twice

On a cold Minnesota morning, Howard Snitzer collapsed on a sidewalk. Ninety-six minutes later, he still didn't have a heartbeat. Here's how he survived.

By Gary Sledge from Reader's Digest | November 2011

At Mayo, White’s diagnosis proves correct. The patient’s heart has an obstruction in the left anterior descending artery, and the clot is pulled.

Five days later, Goodman checks the hospital computer to see how his former patient has fared. To his surprise, Snitzer was released from intensive care and into a general ward. But Goodman has no illusions. Snitzer, he suspects, is in a vegetative state. Curious, he visits Snitzer’s unit and finds the bed empty. I was wrong, he thinks. He’s dead.

Then he hears voices across a hallway. Three middle-aged men are sitting in the lounge area chatting. One of them is in pajamas. It’s Snitzer — coherent and alert. Goodman is astounded.

“I owe you guys,” says a beaming Snitzer.

Goodman deflects the compliments. All those volunteers, he says, “they saved you.”

“Why did you do it? Why did you keep working on me?”

“I don’t really know.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, Howard Snitzer survived without a pulse “in an out-of-hospital arrest with a good outcome” longer than anyone — anywhere — ever has. Since his ordeal, he’s back in Goodhue and back to normal. Better, really, thanks to a quadruple bypass. He even reunited with his rescuers. Dr. Roger White was there. White took one look at a grinning Snitzer and wept.

Snitzer knows he can never repay those men and women. So the chef is doing the next best thing. “I’m going to feed you until you beg me to stop,” he told them. In February, he baked a heart-fibrillating triple-chocolate mousse torte and a chocolate-chip macaroon pie for his rescuers. In May, he made mustard-crusted pork loin and sweet potato dauphinoise. In August, smoked spare ribs, jicama slaw, and “drunken beans,” pinto beans simmered in beer.

“I love these guys,” he says. “And there’s a rumor that firefighters like beer.”

* Some times are approximate.

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

Sending Message
how we use your e-mail

Your Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus