Frostbite victim grateful for remarkable recovery after treatment at Univ. of Iowa

A man from Menlo, Iowa is thankful for his recovery, two years after a frightening accident that left him out in the brutal cold for several hours.
Published: Feb. 18, 2022 at 7:09 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A man from Menlo is thankful for his recovery, two years after a frightening accident that left him out in the brutal cold for several hours.

His care team at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics said that his story is remarkable.

Steve Lose remembers the crash that changed his life and the hours he spent trapped in his car in the subzero cold on that day in February 2020. He said the pain was so severe, he thought animals were chewing on his hands and feet.

“It’s way above just your hands being cold, like how it is when you’re a kid and your hands get cold,” Lose said. “It was way past that.”

The air temperature was -12 at the time, with the wind making it feel even colder. Lose broke multiple bones and his kidneys were starting to fail. A snowplow driver found him 15 hours after the crash. His body temperature had dropped to 77 degrees.

“They got me to Mercy Hospital and it took them hours before they could even get my temperature up to transfer me to Iowa City,” Lose said.

Several days in an intensive care unit stabilized his condition, but doctors knew he’d lose parts of his hands and feet due to severe frostbite.

“In the beginning, it was removing dead things, simultaneously planning to transplant tissues from other parts of his body to preserve those limbs so we wouldn’t have to take them too, proximately or too short,” Dr. Mark Fisher, a reconstructive surgeon on Lose’s care team at UIHC, said.

Lose said it was difficult to process.

“The hardest part was when I saw myself after the amputations,” Lose said. “I saw myself in the mirror without my hands and that really tore me up.”

Fisher and the rest of the team preserved as much of Lose’s arms and legs as they could, with a better than expected outcome.

“If we did those amputations in the normal fashion for him, he would not be able to get out of a bed. He would not be able to use upper extremities; he would’ve been bed-bound,” Fisher said. “We worked really hard to preserve the length of his arms and legs to the point where he could be independent.”

That independence means the world to Lose. He’s exercising regularly, started a lawn care business, and enjoys traveling with family. Those were the people he thought of during those 15 hours in the cold, who were there when he needed them.

“My wife never even left the hospital the whole time I was there - three months. She takes care of me daily,” Lose said.

Lose’s recovery isn’t over. On Monday, he’ll get robotic arms. It will give him even more abilities that, at one point, doctors didn’t think was possible.

Lose was reunited with the snowplow driver who found him that day. He can’t thank Chadwick Gillespie enough for calling 911 and staying with him until help arrived. Gillespie received the Governor’s lifesaving award last year for saving Lose’s life.

Copyright 2022 KCRG. All rights reserved.