Articles Blog

How A Man Frozen For Hours Is Brought Back To Life

How A Man Frozen For Hours Is Brought Back To Life

Ice: it’s great for our drinks and can be
fun to slide on. Historically though, it’s proven to not be
so great a thing to take naps under. Yet in 2016 one man was buried under ice for
several hours and despite what you might expect, he came back to life when resuscitated. Yet how did this lucky man managed to do the
impossible? It was a blustery winter morning in Pennsylvania
when Don Smith spotted his son’s boots sticking out from under a snow drift on the side of
the road. Screeching his car to a halt, he rushed out
into the snow and started digging his son out of the snowdrift under which he was almost
completely buried. To Smith’s horror, his son’s face was blue
and he could feel no pulse or heartbeat. In a panic, he called 911 and as emergency
responders braved the icy roads, he silently prepared himself for the worst. His son had been lying under a snow drift
for twelve hours in minus four degree fahrenheit (-20° C) weather, how could there be any
chance he would survive? Smith was flown via helicopter to a nearby
hospital where a team of doctors and nurses warmed his body and attempted unsuccessfully
to restart his heart with CPR. The paramedics were unable to find any signs
of life in Justin Smith’s body, and one even draped a sheet over what was presumed to be
a corpse. Yet as the coroner was called and police began
their investigation into the exact circumstances surrounding his death, emergency department
physician Gerald Coleman ordered a potassium test of Smith’s blood, as high levels of potassium
in the blood indicates that heart muscle activity is either significantly reduced or has completely
stopped. However to the surprise of everyone, the test
results came back normal, giving the hospital staff hope that the heart could in fact be
restarted. Using a technique called extracorporal membrane
oxygenation, the doctors began to pump warm, oxygenated blood into Smith’s heart and then
throughout his body. Incredibly, the heart began to slowly quiver,
and using shock paddles the doctors managed to shock the heart into restarting completely. Smith was then hooked up to ventilators which
would breathe for him, and warm, oxygenated blood continued to be pumped through his thawing
body. Despite the miracle of restarting Smith’s
frozen heart, doctors feared that he would in effect be brain dead after an incredible
twelve hours of lying frozen under a snow drift. Against all odds scans began to pick up electrical
signals given off by neurological activity, and as the signals increased it became clear
that Smith was experiencing completely normal brain activity. Though he would lose his toes and little fingers
to frostbite, Smith would eventually wake up from his coma and make a complete recovery. As incredible as it may seem, freezing might
have actually saved Smith’s life. When the body is frozen at the right rate,
the slowing metabolic processes will actually protect the body from the effects of exposure. Cooling cells slows down their metabolic activity
and they don’t require as much oxygen to function anymore, and as the heart slows and breathing
stops, the body enters a state of suspended animation. The key to Smith’s survival was that his heart
had kept very slowly beating for hours after his burial in ice, and doctors managed to
begin CPR on him not too long after it had stopped beating. The still-oxygenated blood in his system helped
keep his organs alive thanks to their vastly reduced metabolic activity, not at all dissimilar
to the way that hibernating animals can dramatically reduce both their heart beats and their breathing
rate and still remain alive. Smith’s miraculous recovery has encouraged
modern medicine to consider that there is no temperature too low to try to resuscitate
someone, and his story is mirrored throughout history, with a little girl in 1994 being
brought back to life after freezing solid. One winter morning five year old Karlee Kosolofski
woke up to her father saying goodbye as he prepared to go to work. He tucked Karlee in bed with her mother and
promptly left. Unbeknownst to her father though, Karlee had
gotten up and tried to follow her dad outside, leaving the house dressed in nothing more
than her pajamas. Once outside the door closed behind her and
she realized she was too short to reach the outside door handle. For five hours little Karlee lay against the
front door of her house in below zero winter weather, discovered by her mother frozen stiff. Her mother, who had been trained in CPR, immediately
began to try and resuscitate her but was unable to. Karlee was rushed to the hospital where doctors
would successfully warm her body up and bring her back to life. Incredibly Karlee also suffered no brain damage
despite her prolonged ordeal, and the only major injury was the amputation of the lower
part of her left leg due to frostbite. In 1980 nineteen year old Jean Hilliard was
driving home in her hometown of Lengby, Minnesota on a night with minus twenty two degree weather. Suddenly, her truck hit a patch of ice and
the brakes locked, sending her into a ditch. Living in a rather rural area, Jean began
to walk to try and find help, wearing only a jacket, jeans, and cowboy boots. One of her best friends lived only two miles
down the road, and Jean was confident she could make the walk. As she walked along the icy road though she
began to feel lethargic and confused, early signs of hypothermia, and then when she finally
saw the lights of her friend’s home, Jean collapsed and blacked out. The next morning her friend woke up and discovered
a large lump in the snow just fifteen feet from his door, and investigating he was horrified
to discover that it was Jean. Rushed to the hospital, the medical staff
was pessimistic about Jean’s chances of survival. Her body was frozen so stiff that they were
unable to pierce her flesh with hypodermic needles- the needles simply snapped on contact
with her frozen-solid body. Her body temperature was so low that it didn’t
register on a thermometer, and her face was ashen-gray in color. Deciding that she was dead, the staff still
tried to warm her body up with heating pads, and when her body reached a temperature of
eighty eight degrees, physicians were shocked to discover a faint pulse of twelve beats
a minute. Then, the doctors heard a very faint whimper,
and they knew Jean was alive. Incredibly, Jean would be up and talking normally
just a few hours later, worried about what her dad might think of her wrecking his truck. Medical technology has come a long way since
1980, and today doctors have found that half of hypothermia patients who are treated with
extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, the process of pumping warmed blood into the heart and
body that saved Justin Smith’s life, all make a recovery even if they have been in cardiac
arrest for an extended period of time. Shockingly, if the patients had actually become
hypothermic before their oxygen levels dropped too low, doctors believe that they could have
escape the worst of the long-term damage that comes from having your heart stop for long
periods of time. Doctors are swiftly adopting new techniques
that involve chilling patients who have suffered from extreme trauma, and at the University
of Pittsburgh Medical Center, surgeons have been experimenting with pumping a cold saline
solution into the arteries of patients suffering from gunshot and knife wounds in order to
bring down the body’s temperature. The emergency procedure would at one time
have been considered practically murder, yet today doctors understand that gradually cooling
the body slows down the metabolic processes, and can buy time for saving the life of someone
who’s suffered major blood loss. The reduced need for oxygenated blood from
chilled organs means that they can last longer without suffering damage that could prove
to be fatal, or lead to severely diminished function- especially in the brain. Yet as revolutionary as these new procedures
are, some doctors have long known the benefits of chilling a patient’s body. Since the 1960s surgeons in Siberia have been
putting babies in snow banks before major operations, and induced hypothermia has been
useful for treating pediatric heart patients elsewhere for a long time. In most places though the procedure is a bit
more refined than simply dumping a baby into a bunch of snow, but then again as they are
fond of saying in Russia: if it works, it works. The process of rapidly replacing a patient’s
blood with icy salt water though is relatively new, and quite radical. Yet the technique seems to be working, and
doctors refer to the procedure as suspending life, wary of the science-fiction implications
of calling it “suspended animation”. The body seems to be incredibly resilient,
and as medical technology advances we are learning ever more incredible things about
it. Sadly though, thousands of people still freeze
to death every year across America, and perhaps with more examples of these miraculous recoveries
doctors may learn more about what exactly happens to the body as it freezes, and how
it may be brought back from what appears to be death. For the time being though we are going to
go ahead and recommend that you don’t make it a habit to take naps under large piles
of snow, and if you get in a car accident in the middle of a blizzard, the best thing
to do is to stay inside the cab of your vehicle and keep yourself warm. Wait for someone to come driving by, or if
you’re in a really remote area, at least wait for the weather to clear a bit. How long do you think a person could stay
frozen and still come back to life? Let us know in the comments! And as always if you enjoyed this video don’t
forget to Like, Share, and Subscribe for more great content!

100 thoughts on “How A Man Frozen For Hours Is Brought Back To Life”

  1. When i went through medical school I was told
    " If they are frozen assume they are alive".
    Its crazy what we as humans can undergo and survive.

  2. Can you do a video about the people that put themselves into suspended animation with the hope of being revived in the future

  3. Can you do a video about the people that put themselves into suspended animation with the hope of being revived in the future

  4. ECMO. Yeah, pretty cool huh? I live in Pittsburgh area, and maintain Blood Gases and Ph for a living. Always learning more.

  5. -4 degree fahrenheit?
    Doesent sound very cold to me…


    Oh, thats -20 degree celsius, okay, it is cold^^

  6. Amazing stories like these truly show how capable the human body is at survival. Also I truly believe suspended animation (cryogenic suspension) will be possible a hundred years from now or so. Which leads to possible time travel etc. Only a matter of time….

  7. soooo ppl can be in hibernation? doesnt that mean if something happens they can put ppl in hibernation and save them?

  8. In my Third World country, if you open the fridge for too long and faint, you would be considered dead at the hospital. LOL

  9. Something like that happened to a Norwegian woman who fell through the ice skiing – and she survived and was okay too, despite having the second lowest temperature anyone survived with. And a Canadian toddler even younger than Karli also was found frozen in the back yard of her home but survived and recovered. It is amazing how a human being can survive such things.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *