Man who was dead for 20 minutes after lightning strike is recovering


A local man, who was declared clinically dead for 20 minutes after being struck by lightning on Friday, is in hospital recovering.

The 68-year-old man arrived home on Friday afternoon during a storm and reportedly sought cover under a tree where he was struck by lightning.

A family member started CPR almost immediately after lightning struck him and when paramedics arrived, they took over.

READ: Lightning safety tips

On Tuesday the victim, whose family asked that his name not be published, was still in a medically induced coma in the intensive care unit at a local hospital.

However, paramedics said on Tuesday that he had started moving his legs, which is “a very good sign”.

ER24 paramedic Andrew Rogers, who took over CPR from KZN EMS and performed CPR for 25 minutes before he felt a pulse, said it was a case that will stand out for him in his experiences as a paramedic.

He said he and his crew member, Pitso Mdunge, rushed from Pietermaritzburg to Howick when they received the call, and immediately on his arrival he took over CPR from another paramedic from KZN EMS.

A few minutes after the man’s pulse returned he had started breathing on his own, and his blood pressure came up, said Rogers.

ALSO READ: Lightning precautions save lives

Rogers said the fact the man had cardiac problems, and was in his sixties, counted against him in terms of recovery. However, to Rogers’ surprise his “recovery post lightning strike was good”.

While lightning strikes are often fatal, it was believed that this was not a direct lightning strike. This, and the fact that the family started CPR almost immediately after the strike had played a major part in the man being resuscitated, he said.

Rogers believes that had it not been for the family’s quick reaction the man would not have made it to hospital.

The incident is proof of how important it is for the public to know how to administer CPR. Rogers explained that CPR helps to keep the brain oxygenated and while the man was in fact “clinically dead” and had no pulse initially, the CPR was a major factor in helping him to recover.

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