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Brain surgeon walked six miles during snowstorm for emergency operation

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Courtesy NBC News

By Becky Bratu, Staff Writer, NBC News

Not a snowstorm, a traffic jam or a daunting six-mile walk through fresh powder could stop an Alabama neurosurgeon from getting to the hospital where he was needed for emergency surgery.

Dr. Zenko Hrynkiw had to travel from Birmingham's Brookwood Medical Center to Trinity Medical Center to perform the operation Tuesday, but a sudden snowstorm had snarled all traffic, with thousands of drivers getting stranded for hours. 

Authorities in Alabama had declared a state of emergency only for the southern half of the state, leaving out hard-hit Birmingham and sending available equipment the other way.

Getting to the hospital by car would've been nearly impossible.

Instead, the neurosurgeon decided to make the trek by foot. 

"It really wasn't that big of a deal," Hrynkiw said Thursday. "I walk a lot, so it wasn't that big of a deal."

He said he left Brookwood  around 10:45 a.m. ET — and by 12:45 p.m. he was already operating on the patient.

And the good doctor said he was even able to receive the patient's CT scan via text message while walking toward the hospital. 

The emergency surgery was for a traumatic brain injury and Hrynkiw is Trinity's only brain surgeon, according to The Associated Press.

"He had a 90 percent chance of death," Hrynkiw said. "If he didn't have surgery, he'd be dead. It's not going to happen on my shift," he added.

"Without the surgery, the patient would have most likely died," Steve Davis, charge nurse in the neuro-intensive care unit at Trinity, told the AP. "But he is doing well."

Google Maps estimates the distance Hrynkiw walked at around six miles.

"This just speaks volumes to the dedication of the man," Davis said. "When I saw him, all I could say is ‘you are a good man.'"

Read on NBC News

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