- A 34-year-old British woman’s heart stopped for six hours after she caught severe hypothermia during a hike in the Spanish Pyrenees last month.
- Audrey Schoeman and her husband were caught in a snow storm while hiking, and the severe temperature drop made her vital organs shut down.
- Doctors in Barcelona later revived her in what Schoeman has described as a “miracle.” Medics said this was the longest cardiac arrest ever recorded in Spain, Sky News reported.
- Part of the reason why Schoeman survived was – somewhat counterintuitively – because the severe temperature in the mountains protected Schoeman’s vital organs and prevented their deterioration, her doctor said, according to Reuters.
- Schoeman, who has since been discharged from the hospital, says she wants to go hiking again next spring.
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A British hiker whose heart stopped for six hours after getting caught in a snow storm last month has described her recovery as a “miracle.”
Audrey Schoeman, 34, caught severe hypothermia and went into cardiac arrest while hiking in the Spanish Pyrenees with her husband in early November.
During the hike they got caught in a snow storm, and Schoeman collapsed.
Her husband Rohan panicked when he failed to find a pulse or breath after she collapsed, he told a Friday press conference.
“I thought she was said dead because I was trying to feel for her pulse, my fingers were also numb so I wasn’t sure if it was my fingers,” Rohan Schoeman said.
Hypothermia occurs when a person is exposed to extreme cold, and the body loses heat faster than it can generate it. It makes the person’s blood vessels to constrict , and kicks their metabolism into overdrive.
Rescue workers arrived two hours later to find Audrey Schoeman’s body temperature had fallen to 18 degrees Celsius (64.4 degrees Fahrenheit), and immediately transported her to the nearby Vall D’Hebron Hospital in Barcelona, the BBC reported.
Adults should have an average body temperature of 37 Celsius (98.6 Fahrenheit).
While at the hospital doctors used a specialised machine to remove Schoeman’s blood, infuse it with oxygen, and pump it back through her body, Reuters reported.
Doctors then waited until Schoeman’s temperature reached 30 Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) before using a defibrillator to get her heart beating again, Reuters said. This was about six hours after her heart stopped breathing.
It had been the longest cardiac arrest ever recorded in Spain,Sky News reported, citing doctors at the Vall d’Hebron Hospital.
Schoeman was released from the hospital 12 days later, with only some lingering issues with the mobility and sensitivity of her hands due to the hypothermia, Reuters reported.
Part of the reason why Schoeman survived was, somewhat counterintuitively, due to the severe temperatures that gave her hypothermia in the first place, Reuters reported, citing one of her doctors.
The extremely low temperature in the mountains had protected Schoeman’s vital organs and prevented their deterioration – which helped her survive after her heart stopped beating, one of her doctors said.
“She looked as though she was dead,” Eduard Argudo said in a statement citd by Reuters. “But we knew that, in the context of hypothermia, Audrey had a chance of surviving.”
“If she had been in cardiac arrest for this long at a normal body temperature, she would be dead,” he added.
Schoeman has described her recovery as “amazing,” according to Reuters, citing her interview with Catalan broadcaster TV3.
“It’s like a miracle except that it’s all because of the doctors,” she said, adding that she has no memory of those six hours under cardiac arrest.
Schoeman, who lives in Barcelona, is also keen to continue hiking. She plans to go on another hike next spring when the weather is better, she told reporters on Friday, according to Reuters.
“I don’t want this to take away this hobby from me,” she said.