The Miracle Man of Mora, Minnesota - KMSP-TV

The Miracle Man of Mora, Minnesota

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MORA, Minn. (KMSP) -

At an old white farmhouse in Mora, Minnesota, there's lots of laughs, lots of stories, lots of love, and a little bit of crazy – which is okay at the Crazy Ladies House.

But one day in early May, it was a crazy of a different kind for the Santale family, and it had all moved to Abbott Northwestern Hospital.

Roxanne Santale's 82-year-old husband Pierre had a massive heart attack. His heart stopped beating for 20 minutes. He got CPR from his son, but it wasn't looking good.

Pierre immediately received therapeutic hypothermia -- a vest that lowered his body temperature for 24 hours in an effort to save his brain from further injury.

Pierre then went into a coma.

"We just called the priest, and did last rites and started passing the word, and everybody was praying all over the world," Roxanne said.

Days passed. The wait was excruciating and hope was hard to come by.

After six days the neurologist delivered some bad news. Pierre had very little brain activity and would likely die, or at best never be able to go home. His chance of survival was at two percent.

The family made the most difficult decision to end life support. Funeral plans were underway.

Roxanne went home, trying to prepare for the fact that the next day her husband would die.

But then the phone rang.

"They had said what are you doing? I said well, we're planning a funeral. And she goes stop everything right now. Stop it."

Pierre Santale was literally coming back to life.

Doctors were stunned. His family was in shock.

"We couldn't believe it, it was like a miracle," Roxanne said. "That's what they were calling him there – The Miracle Man. When we got there, I just couldn't believe it."

Roxanne knew he was okay almost right away. Pierre's first concern when he woke up was her.

"One of the first things he said to me was did you take your blood pressure medicine this morning?" I said, are you for real?"

Doctors believe the therapeutic hypothermia vest played a huge role in his survival. But typically if patients were going to survive, they were expected to wake up in three or four days. Pierre woke up in seven, so expectations are now changing.

Back in Mora, Pierre is now coming to grips with his amazing survival story.

"I can't believe it yet," he said. "I don't remember nothing."

He may not remember the week he was sleeping, but his incredible memory is back and he's telling some great stories from years past.

So now the crazy is back in Mora and it's the good kind of crazy: laughing and loving more than ever on this Father's Day.

It's not fully known why Pierre was able to make just about a full recovery. Certainly the therapeutic hypothermia played a big role, and it's also believed because Pierre knows five languages his overall brain function is higher.

His doctor says he can't stress enough the importance of knowing CPR, which undoubtedly helped save Pierre's life.

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