7 Really Weird But Actually True Medical Stories

4. That time
a skier survived being trapped under ice in freezing cold water
for 80 minutes.

That time a skier survived being trapped under ice in freezing cold water for 80 minutes.

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In 1999 Anna Bågenholm was out skiiing with friends outside the
town of Narvik in Norway, when she
fell headfirst into a frozen-over stream running down the
mountain. Thick ice covered the water, and Bågenholm fell
through a hole in it headfirst. She ended up with most of her
body, except for her feet and skis, trapped in the freezing
water under the ice.

Her friends tried to get her free but couldn’t. Luckily, she
managed to find an air pocket under the ice and stayed
conscious for 40 minutes before becoming still.

By the time emergency services retrieved her, 80 minutes after
the accident, her body temperature had dropped to 13.7 °C –
lower than any body temperature someone had survived before in
medical history – and she had no pulse.

She was taken by helicopter to Tromso University Hospital.
Doctors attached her to a heart-lung bypass machine, taking the
cold blood out of her body, heating it up, and putting it back
in, to bring her body temperature back up to normal.
Eventually, three hours after it had stopped, her heart began
beating again.

It was 12 days until she regained consciousness, and four
months in rehabilitation before she was able to leave hospital.
Six years after her accident, she was well enough to ski again.

paper in medical journal The Lancet details
Bågenholm’s rescue and recovery, saying “this potential outcome
should be borne in mind for all such victims”. A paper in the
journal Resuscitation says that, since 1999, nine out of
24 patients who also suffered hypothermic cardiac arrest have
survived, and concluded that “nobody is dead until they’re warm
and dead.”

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