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Woman 'frozen' in lake brought back to life

A young doctor who was clinically dead for three hours was brought back to life after she became trapped under ice and her body temperature dropped to a record low of 13.7C.

Anna Bagenholm, 29, a trainee surgeon, was skiing off-piste, near Narvik, in northern Norway, when she fell through a frozen river and became trapped under the ice for 40 minutes.

As colleagues struggled to rescue her from beneath the ice, her body temperature gradually dropped and her vital organs shut down.

Her temperature had fallen more than 23 degrees below normal. No one is known to have lived after becoming so cold before. The previous survival record was held by a child whose temperature fell to 14.4C.

Ms Bagenholm was resuscitated and given oxygen on her way to hospital by air ambulance.

On her arrival at hospital she was not breathing, her blood circulation had stopped, and her pupils did not respond to light.

However doctors re-warmed her while her circulation was maintained with a heart-lung machine until her heart started to beat again.

She spent 60 days in intensive care, including 35 days receiving ventilator treatment.

Five months after the accident she returned to work and she has since resumed hiking and skiing.

The case was described in the Lancet medical journal. Mads Gilbert, of the Tromso university hospital, Norway, said the key to surviving such hypothermia included "a spirit not to give up".


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Woman 'frozen' in lake brought back to life

This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 03.11 GMT on Friday 28 January 2000.

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