Realizing the impact_ Dr. Johnson and Andreas Nissen

Andreas Nissen and Dr. Johnson

Chris Nissen reached out to Dr. Johnson just after Christmas, seeking him out to not only thank him for saving his son’s life, but to also reintroduce Andreas.  Andreas, now 20 years old, is now doing his own lifesaving measures, currently active duty working in special forces for the USMC.    Recounting the story had Dr. Johnson quite emotional after a “tough weekend” in the ED,  “these kinds of stories”, he said, “reminds me why I became a doctor and realizing the profound impact I had on this particular family.”

Twenty years ago, the lifesaving measures one doctor made, saved a baby in distress.  This baby, now a young man, stopped into FirstLight thanking Dr. Johnson for his heroic efforts.

The irony of this story is that this young man, leading by example, is making a difference in our world today, serving in the armed forces as an Intelligence Specialist.  Andreas Nissen, a Lance Corporal in the Unites States Marine Corps stopped in the first week of January and talked with Dr. Johnson, thanking him for saving his life two decades ago.  “I now feel the responsibility that you may have had when I was being born; providing lifesaving measures by protecting my team, protecting our country and keeping everyone safe.”

On May 16, 1998, Debbie gave birth to her second child, Andreas. Knowing that she was 6 weeks early, she and Andreas’ dad, Chris left in such a hurry, he crashed their vehicle into the garage door. “The evidence is still there today,” he chuckled.  Andreas recounted the story his parents had told him to Dr. Johnson, where interestingly enough, he (Andreas) was airlifted even before insurance benefits covered helicopter rides. Considering the severity of the situation, without a helicopter ride, baby Andreas wouldn’t have had a great chance of survival. The precise maneuvers and decisions made by Dr. Johnson allowed for a quick transport to Children’s Hospital where he spent the next two weeks in the NICU.

Dr. Johnson remembers delivering over 50 babies then and how things were quite different in 1998.  During delivery, Andreas’ heart stopped prompting Dr. Johnson to jump into lifesaving mode. The procedure he used to safely deliver Andreas was risky and necessary, because the surgical team couldn’t be readied in enough time.  Dr. Johnson’s actions were successful, and the baby was quickly resuscitated, stabilized and flown to Children’s in Minneapolis.  When baby Andreas was waiting to be airlifted, Dr. Johnson sent a stuffed bear with him and Andreas still has that bear to this day.

Andreas, has often talked about meeting Dr. Johnson to personally thank him for saving his life. After Andrea’s father retired in 2015, he and his wife moved back to the Mora area and this past Christmas break, while visiting his parents, Andreas made a point to stop by the hospital to meet Dr. Johnson.   The brief meeting had everyone exchanging their versions of the story and ended with Andrea’s presenting a gift to Dr. Johnson, his version of the stuffed bear: a bull dog, the Marine Corps mascot, just as Dr. Johnson gave him the stuffed bear 20 years ago.

This very moving story, reminded Dr. Johnson why he is a physician and the importance of the impact he creates. Dr. Johnson has been practicing at FirstLight since his graduation from med school.  He grew up in Cloquet and was the first in his family to go to college.  He was fortunate enough to receive financial help for schooling and vowed to always practice in Minnesota, as a repayment to those who have helped him. If you know Dr. Johnson, you know he humbly “did his job,” and delivered a baby and saved a life.

Andreas telling his story
Andreas Nissen and Dr. Johnson