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Boy Revived Nearly 2 Hours after Falling into Icy Stream

heart beat

Image credit: wavebreakmedia/ Shutterstock

One evening not long ago, a 22-month-old kid accidentally  fell into a cold and icy tributary of Buffalo Creek, outside Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania. In a short time, this boy was swept downstream for nearly a quarter of a mile until a neighbor discovered him on a grassy knoll, upon which he had been washed up. At that time, such boy was found without pulse and breathing, he might have remained in the 1oC (34oF) water for nearly thirty minutes.

As PennLive confirmed, after receiving rescue call, emergency services went to the spot immediately. Upon their arrival, they started with performing CPR on him, and kept on doing it when they moved him to EvangelicalCommunityHospital, finally carried him by a helicopter to the destination of Geisinger.

When the helicopter arrived there, being remained pulseless, the boy’s body temperature was a mere 25oC (77oF), typically lower than the normal body temperature of 37oC (98.6oF). Therefore, the medical team was making continuous efforts to resuscitate him in addition to administering fluids so as to keep him warm. The doctors had made preparations for the surgery in which he was placed on a heart bypass machine. However, after 20 minutes a pulse was eventually detected, so medical team decided to continue their efforts in resuscitation and warming. It was amazing that CPR went on for one hour and 41 minutes, which involved many people’s hard work, because it should be a long and tiring procedure.

As soon as the infant had a more fairly acceptable body temperature, he was given blood pressure medicine and then placed on a ventilator. Surprisingly, he woke up afterwards. Considering what he went through, it was amazing that no neurological damage occurred to him. After five-day treatment at hospital, he went back home and his parents said that he was in healthy condition, resuming to be smiling and talking once more.

People are eager to know how this little boy could still be alive after such dramatic event. It seems an unbelievable miracle for his survival, but it is mainly attributed to a combination of two factors: one is his age, and the other is his falling into extremely cold water. And here is the reason for it.

The fiercest consequences of immersion could be attributable to lack of oxygen, or hypoxia, as well as impacts on the heart and brain. It is cold water that could be really helpful in protection against these impacts by two different mechanisms. First of all, it could initiate something called the diving reflex, which is conducive to oxygen conservation by making the heart slow down and turning blood to vital parts of the body, like the brain. It is quite interesting that such response is much stronger in a kid, which is partially reasonable that children might have more chances to survive than adults after in the state of submersion for a longer period of time.

Secondly, cold temperatures and swallowing of water could cause hypothermia very rapidly. Body temperatures below 30oC allow brain tissue to stay obviously resistant to hypoxia in addition to reduction of its energy consumption by nearly 50%. Although temperature regulation mechanisms are grown within our bodies, these are not well-developed in infants to a full extent, thus enabling them to be more susceptible to hypothermia. Additionally, thanks to the lower surface area to body mass ratios and less body fat than adults, children could cool much quickly and thermo-regulate in less efficient way.