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Photo courtesy Brian Zilvitis
Eleven-year-old Max Zilvitis was buried for 33 minutes at The Canyons ski resort Sunday. When rescuers found him, he was blue, not breathing and had no pulse.

It came a day late, but 11-year-old Max Zilvitis got to celebrate Christmas at home Wednesday evening.

For Zilvitis' parents, their greatest gift may have come Christmas Eve when their son regained consciousness and was on his way to a miraculous recovery.

Zilvitis was buried for 33 minutes at The Canyons ski resort Sunday. When rescuers found him, he was blue, not breathing and had no pulse.

Wednesday afternoon, Max was well enough to be sent home from Primary Children's Medical Center.

"He's doing really really well," Brian Zilvitis, Max's father, said Thursday morning from their Park City home. "He got to open presents last night ... do Christmas time."

Max Zilvitis was taken out of intensive care Wednesday morning and listed in good condition. About 4 p.m., he was allowed to go home. The recovery was even more remarkable considering that just four days earlier Max was found without a pulse and was not breathing.

Zilvitis and his father, Brian, were skiing in the Red Pine Chutes area of the Canyons on Sunday when an avalanche swept them away. Brian was partially buried and able to dig himself out quickly. His son was completely buried. Rescuers found him more than a half hour after the slide was reported.

Through the heroic efforts of the ski patrol, they were able to get Max breathing on his own by the time a medical helicopter took him away to the hospital.

From Tuesday afternoon on, Max's condition improved dramatically.

"He remembers an awful lot of what happened," Brian Zilvitis said. "We're not sure how he's processing that yet."

Zilvitis said his son did some things that helped him survive the ordeal that he wants to share with the public to help others who may find themselves in a similar situation. As of Thursday morning, however, Zilvitis said the family needed a little more time to themselves before facing the media.

The couple also thanked everyone involved with saving their son's life, from the ski patrol to the paramedics on the helicopter to the doctors at the hospital.


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