In January 2006, an explosion in the Sago mine in central West Virginia resulted in 14 trapped miners. Approximately 41 hours later, one lone survivor was found and brought to medical care. It became apparent that the survivor had not suffered blast injuries, but rather hypoxia and exposure to toxic gases, dehydration, and rhabdomyolysis. During rapid pre-hospital care, followed by acute resuscitation and hospitalization, this patient demonstrated many classic features of carbon monoxide toxicity, including neurologic, cardiac, and renal dysfunction.

In addition, the patient suffered from respiratory failure. Rapid resuscitation with end-organ perfusion and hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment resulted in a dramatic improvement in all areas. After inpatient rehabilitation (including mega omega-3 treatment), the patient has return to his wife, children, and family and is conversant and ambulating. This article explores the causes of these unique injuries, and a medical explanation for the extent of recovery in the sole survivor. To our knowledge, this is the first case of a survivor of prolonged exposure in a mining accident.

Sago Mine Survivor Reaches 5 Year Anniversary