Norwegian skier survives 80 minutes in ice water

Posted By: The Ski Channel on October 12, 2009 9:27 am

This starts as a sad story, but don’t worry, it has a very happy ending. In 1999, Norwegian doctor Anna Bagneholm moved to Narvik, Norway for her residency because of the great skiing there. One day, while riding with friends, she fell into a hole in the ice. Her head was completely submerged in the freezing water of the stream. Her friends tried desperately to dig her out but clearly needed professional assistance. After failed attempts, they finally freed her using a garden shovel. She had been in the water for one hour and 20 minutes. CNN interviewed a doctor, Dr. Mads Gilbert, who helped save Anna: “She has completely dilated pupils. She is ashen, flaxen white. She’s wet. She’s ice cold when I touch her skin, and she looks absolutely dead,” Gilbert said. “On the ECG [electrocardiogram], which the doctor on the helicopter has connected her to, there is a completely flat line. Like you could have drawn it with a ruler. No signs of life whatsoever. And the decision was made. We will not declare her dead until she is warm and dead.”

Good thing they didn’t. Once at the hospital, Anna awoke! They warmed her blood and watched her heart begin to beat again. When your body is that cold, it needs less oxygen. Apparently that’s why she was able to survive. After being paralyzed for almost a year, Anna has fully recovered. She now works as a radiologist in the same hospital that treated her.

What a great story that proves how strong we can really be when it matters. Here’s to years and years of good health Anna!!