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Hero braves 400-mile drive through a snowstorm to get kidney to a recipient

He risked his own life and did not stop even after being stuck in a snowbank.

Hero braves 400-mile drive through a snowstorm to get kidney to a recipient
Image Source: Getty Images/ Grafton Marshall Smith

Transporting an organ is a tedious and urgent task even under normal conditions, let alone during a snowy blizzard. However, an organ transporter proved to be a hero as he was able to transport a kidney among high winds and heavy snow, per ABC News. Lucas Baker, a Trinity Medical Solutions Midwest division carrier, told the outlet that in his 10 years of delivering organs, he's gone the extra mile to bring organs or medical professionals to patients countless times.



However, he claimed his work on December 23 was one of the most difficult he's ever done because of the snow and subzero weather he encountered on the 400-mile journey. Baker said, "My biggest fear was running out of gas. With the temps being subzero, you don't last long in that." Baker, who is stationed in Rochester, Minnesota, received a call on December 23 to carry a kidney from Minneapolis to Bismarck, North Dakota. According to Baker, the kidney was brought in a container containing surgical ice, which normally keeps the organ safe and viable for around 18 hours.

Baker said the first portion of the trip was uneventful, and he arrived in Fargo, North Dakota, in approximately three and a half hours. Things quickly changed as the snow and cold snap that had hit the Midwest that day worsened. He recalled, "From Fargo to Jamestown...there were snow drifts about every 50 yards." Baker stated that he had to change directions after encountering a roadblock west of Jamestown and the road conditions deteriorated. He said, "I think I only traveled 25 miles in that hour and a half." 


Baker said that when he attempted to return to the main road, his car became stuck in a snowbank and he phoned for assistance. Deputy Mercedez Holzworth of the Stutsman County Sheriff's Office was already in the area responding to a complaint about a truck trapped in a snowbank when he arrived at Baker's scene. Holzworth told ABC News that the subject was personal for her since she has a sister who had three liver transplants and knew what was at risk. She said, "I know there is an urgency to that and I had to make him a priority." 

Before the plow vehicles came, the deputy pulled out a hand shovel and began digging out Baker's vehicle. Baker expressed gratitude for Holzworth's efforts, especially after witnessing her being pummeled by heavy wind gusts. He said, "I drive a Lincoln Navigator and even I couldn't open the door easily because the winds were so strong. Without her showing up I would have gotten out."

After escaping the snowbank, Baker was able to find a petrol station and refill before locating another route on the main road. By daylight, the road had become more clear, and he said he had made it to Bismarck's Sanford Hospital, where Jerry Bernal the patient was getting ready for surgery. Baker said, "We probably only had three hours remaining." He added, "Myself and my drivers, anytime we deliver a physical organ to a hospital or drop off a heart team or a lung team at a hospital you know that patient is getting that organ within minutes of stepping in the OR." 

Bernal, who had been in stage 5 kidney failure and on the transplant list since October, received a successful delivery from Baker on Christmas Eve, according to KSTP.  Bernel told the outlet, "I just keep on remembering what people tell me, 'Have faith, have faith.' And it had to be God making a path for the driver that night. He could've easily called his boss and said, 'Oh, I can't get here.' But I think God touched all of them and made a path to get the kidney here on time."

Baker claimed that no matter what challenge stands in his way, he would continue to do all in his power to ensure the success of his shipments. He said, "I know it seems weird at this point it doesn't crash your mind when you get those calls. It's become almost a daily routine for me." 

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