A 22-month-old infant is reported to have miraculously survived ‘drowning’ – he had spent almost 2 hours with no pulse before having been revived. Guardian angel, perhaps?
The child stumbled and fell into a tributary of Buffalo Creek, outside Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania last Wednesday. He was swiftly carried by the current and might have remained in the extremely cold water for around half an hour. He was later discovered by a neighbour at a grassy knoll. When found, he had no pulse and was not breathing.
Upon the discovery of his motionless body, emergency services were called right away. CPR was soon performed on him, done repeatedly as he was taken to a nearby hospital. It was found that the infant still had no pulse and his body temperature was recorded to be 25 degrees Celcius; while efforts to revive him were put in, he was also warmed with administering fluids. The medical personnel then decided to have a heart bypass surgery on him because he was not responding to the care given to him. Fortunately though, in no time, a pulse was detected after 20 minutes and so the doctors carried on with the reviving procedures instead of going for surgery. After one hour and 41 minutes of CPR, he was finally revived.
After his body temperature reached the normal one, he was given blood pressure medicine. He woke up at around 2 am on Thursday: he was reported to be healthy, with no neurological damage. He returned home after 5 days.
His survival is being explained in terms of his age and how he fell into extremely cold water – these two factors seemed to have played huge roles in keeping him safe.
The cold water might have protected him from lack of oxygen, a condition known as hypoxia. Cold water can stimulate what is known as the diving reflex, whereby oxygen is conserved by slowing down the heart. The otherwise negative effects that this brings is compensated by the supply of blood to regions like the brain which is in need of the life-giving fluid. This response is even stronger in children, making of the latter more likely to survive drowning.
Body temperature below 30 degrees Celcius can be beneficial in these circumstances: the brain tissue is made to be resistant to hypoxia and energy consumption is lowered to half of the normal rate. Body temperature regulation mechanisms are not fully developed in kids, such that their body temperature is not increased to the normal one. moreover, kids have lower surface are to body mass ratios, implying that they cool much faster.
This combinations of factors might have set up the ideal conditions for the infant to have survived ‘drowning’.