A British woman has miraculously fully recovered from a cardiac arrest during which her heart stopped beating for six hours.
34-year-old Audrey Shoeman went hiking with her husband Rohan in the Spanish Pyrenees on November 3rd and in the process, she, unfortunately, got caught in a snowstorm and developed severe hypothermia – a condition that doctors say also saved her life.
The condition started when Shoeman who currently lives in Barcelona began having trouble speaking and moving during severe weather in the Pyrenees, later falling unconscious.
When she passed out, her husband called the emergency services. “I thought she was dead. I was trying to feel for a pulse… I couldn’t feel a breath, I couldn’t feel a heartbeat” Rohan said.
According to doctors, what happened to her is a consequence of a drop in body temperature. Schoeman’s body temperature had dropped to 18 degrees Celsius, far lower than the normal 36.5–37.5 degrees Celsius and the hospital team used an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine to keep her alive.
The doctors explained that Schoeman survived with a perfect neurological outcome because the extreme drop in body temperature that stopped her heart also slowed her brain metabolism, allowing the organ to cope better with the lack of oxygen.
“The human brain usually suffers irreparable damage if the heart stops beating for five minutes, and Schoeman represents a very rare case,” the doctors added.
When Schoeman finally woke up, she was surprised to find herself in the hospital. She suffered a slight loss of sensitivity in her hands but the doctors assured her of a quick recovery.
She has now recovered fully and she says she can only be grateful for her life and has added that she would love to go hiking again when it is much safer “It’s like a miracle except I think it’s all because of the doctor. Probably this winter I won’t go to the mountains, but I hope that in spring we will be able to start hiking and trekking again. I don’t want this to take away that hobby from me,” she said.
Schoeman’s case has been described as exceptional. Doctors say it is the longest cardiac arrest ever recorded in Spain. That could only be a miracle.