Andrea Billups
January 31, 2014 12:50 PM

As winter weather shut down highways and crippled portions of the South, one Alabama neurosurgeon made a heroic decision Tuesday not to let Mother Nature get in the way of life-saving treatment.

Dr. Zenko Hrynkiw, a 62-year-old brain surgeon (who has had a liver transplant), was working in Birmingham’s Brookwood Medical Center when he was contacted by another hospital. There, a patient was desperate for emergency surgery for a traumatic brain injury.

Hrynkiw set off across town to operate, but his vehicle could only go so far in traffic and snow-stalled roads. His cell phone service went in and out as he tried to communicate with nurses. So he made a brave decision to get out and walk – for more than six miles, in a massive snowstorm – a feat that has earned praise at Trinity Medical Center where he operated, as a hero, NBC reported.

“He had a 90 percent chance of death, and the nurses and the ER physicians called me when I was walking and told me he was deteriorated and went into unconsciousness,” Hrynkiw told the Associated Press about the desperate patient. “He was dying. If he didn’t have surgery, he would be dead. It’s not going to happen on my watch.”

Atlanta gridlock on Jan. 29
David Tulis/AP

The determined physician made it to the operating room and his patient, according to the hospital, is now doing well.

“It was not just a walk in the park,” Keith Granger, CEO of Trinity, told Alabama news site Given what the doctor was up against, “it’s a remarkable physical feat and mental feat. And we have an individual alive today who wouldn’t be here if not for his efforts.”

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