34 year old Audrey Schoeman has made a rare full recovery after suffering from six hour cardiac arrest caused by severe hypothermia.
Audrey was caught in a snow storm while hiking in the Pyrenees mountain range in Spain with her husband. She passed out and was quickly rushed to the hospital after Rohan, her husband, notified the emergency services.
Rohan, while been interviewed, said , “I thought she was dead…. I couldn’t feel a breath, I was trying to feel for a pulse.”
Audrey was rushed into Vall d’Hebron, where Doctor Jordi Riera was part of the team that attended and treated her.
Dr Riera in his words confirming the rare case which happened with Audrey said, “The human brain suffers irreparable damage if the heart stops beating for five minutes.”
“What happened to her is a consequence of the drop in temperature,” he added
He further explained that Audrey survived without any fault in the neurological state. Stating that the extreme drop in temperature which stopped her heart from beating had also slowed her brain metabolism, allowing the brain to cope better with lack of oxygen.
Audrey’s body temperature was said to have dropped from the normal range of 36.5 to 37.5 degrees Celsius to 18 degrees Celsius. It however took the functioning of an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine to keep her alive
This machine replaces the function of the heart and lungs, thus allowing doctors to oxygenate Audrey’s blood and pump it around the body.
“Her body slowly warmed up and they were able to get her heart beating again after six hours,” said Dr Riera.
Audrey while leaving the hospital expressed her gratitude to the medical team and told them she is keen to carry on with her life as normal.
“Probably this winter I won’t go to the mountains, but I hope that in spring, I will be able to start hiking and trekking again, I don’t want this to take away hiking from me,” she concluded.