(NEW YORK POST) – Doctors in Spain revived a British woman whose heart stopped for six hours — an “exceptional case” in which her hypothermia may have actually saved her life, according to a new report.
Audrey Schoeman, 34, who lives in Barcelona, was hiking in the Spanish Pyrenees with her husband in November when she was caught in a snowstorm and developed severe hypothermia, the BBC reported.
Schoeman went into the longest cardiac arrest ever recorded in Spain — but has made a miraculous, near-full recovery, according to the report.
Schoeman began having trouble speaking and moving, and then fell unconscious during the hike. Her condition worsened during the wait for emergency services — and her husband, Rohan, feared she was already dead.
“I was trying to feel a pulse,” Rohan told Catalan channel TV3. “I couldn’t feel a breath, I couldn’t feel a heartbeat.”
When a rescue team finally reached her two hours later, her body temperature had plummeted to only 64.4 degrees, according to the BBC.
She had no vital signs upon arrival at the hospital.
But the frigid temperatures on the mountain range seemed to have kept her alive, her doctor, Eduard Argudo, told the outlet. Hypothermia had protected her body and brain from deteriorating while unconscious — even though it caused her life-threatening condition in the first place, he said.
“If she had been in cardiac arrest for this long at a normal body temperature, she would be dead,” Argudo told the BBC.
Doctors used a specialized machine to remove blood from Schoeman, infuse it with oxygen and then reintroduce it to her.
Then, once her body temperature reached 86 degrees, they used a defibrillator to jump-start her heart.
“We were very worried about any neurological damage,” Argudo told the outlet. “Given there are practically no cases of people who have had their heart stop for so long and been revived.”
Schoeman told the network she doesn’t remember any of what happened during those crucial six hours.
“I didn’t really know what was going on in my first day or two that I woke up in intensive care,” she said. “But, since then, I’ve been trying to read more, obviously learning more about hypothermia and it feels really incredible that I survived it.”
“It’s like a miracle,” she added, “except it’s all because of the doctors.”