Unresponsive Anesthesiologist Saved by Hospital Custodian

Marie DeFreitas

October 27, 2021

On the night of April 29 at Alomere Health in Minnesota, anesthesiologist Amos Szajner, MD, noticed he was not feeling well. The week before, Szajner said he was experiencing flu-like symptoms and decided to check himself on one of the monitors at the hospital that night.

As Kendal Hofstad, a custodian at Alomere Health, was cleaning that wing of the hospital, he noticed something unusual. "I opened the door and I thought I saw from the corner of my eye some scrubs lying on the floor," Hofstad told local station WCCO. Those scrubs were actually an unresponsive Szajner.

Hofstad immediately called for help and then performed CPR on Szajner for 12 long minutes. Szajner was then transported by helicopter to CentraCare in St. Cloud where doctors found a large blood clot in one of his main arteries, according to WCCO.

Szajner was treated with a stent and stabilized through an Impella pump, designed to give patients temporary support during depressed heart function. The device itself is a small pump inside a catheter that's powered by an electric motor that can pump roughly 2½ liters of blood into the body each minute. It gives the heart a chance to recover while pumping blood for it.

"I don't know without the pump if Dr Szajner would have survived," cardiologist Daniel James Tiede, MD, told WCCO. "It's almost miraculous."

According to the CDC, as many as 900,000 people experience blood clots in the US each year, and 3 in 10 people who have a blood clot will experience another episode in the next 10 years. Blood clots set the US back about $10 billion every year and treatment can cost anywhere between $15,000 to $20,000 per patient.

After a few days, Szajner took a turn for the better; he was able to make a full recovery and return to work as well as rock climbing, a loved sport for him.

"I'm real happy for him and I'm glad he's doing real well," Hofstad told WCCO.

Szajner thanked everyone who was involved, including the teams at Alomere and CentraCare that worked to save his life, as well as Hofstad. "When this happened we became better friends, definitely," Szajner said in a video interview. "God is so great and gracious and blessed my family to have me around. I feel like every day is a present. It's his gift."

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