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Jan 31, 2014 09:47 AM EST

Alabama Brain Surgeon Walks Six Miles In Snowstorm For Life-Saving Operation

Sometimes, brain surgeons must use their legs. That was the case when Dr. Zenko Hrynkiw was needed for emergency brain surgery at a nearby hospital - nearby if one's driving a car. Hyrnkiw was at a Birmingham, Alabama hospital six miles away. He attempted to drive, but the intrepid snowstorm that had consumed the south prevented him from moving more than a few blocks. Instead, he walked.

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

Because of the storm, cell service was inconsistent. Steve Davis, head nurse of the neuro intensive care unit at Trinity Medical Center (the destination Hrynkiw needed to get to), spoke with the health-conscious doctor long enough to confirm he'd be walking.

"The cell service was bad so we were fading in and out," Davis told FOX. "At one point, I heard him say, 'I'm walking.'"

Luckily, Hrynkiw could still receive texts, through which nurses and other hospital employees were sending him scans of the patient's brain. As the only brain surgeon among the two hospitals (and in the general area), he knew that if he didn't get there, the patient would die.

"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."

Davis confirmed Hrynkiw's assessment, and confirmed the health of the patient following the operation.

"Without the surgery, the patient would have most likely died," Davis told the AP. "But he is doing well."

Though Google Maps lists the distance at six miles, Davis coud have actually walked eight miles, or the number estimated by his staff, NBC reported. As a runner and frequent user of Google Maps, I've finished more than a few trips on foot and wondered if I'd actually traveled further than Google calculated.

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

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