How did he survive that flight, anyway?

Preemie NICUWe woke today to hear the news about a 16 year old boy who survived a flight from San Jose (home to Valley Medical Center) to Hawaii…in the wheel well of a jet. At 35,000 feet. And -50 degrees cold. The nation is asking: How is that remotely possible?

My first reaction to the news is now being repeated by pundits around the globe: When cooled, the human body can do some pretty amazing things. It’s very possible, experts are now saying, that the boy went into a kind of “hibernation” which allowed him to survive the cold and lack of oxygen.

At VMC’s neonatal intensive care unit, our team of newborn care doctors have been doing something similar for the last few years. We call it “total body cooling”, which is done on infants born after a period of asphyxia – like an umbilical cord prolapse (being literally strangled by the cord upon delivery).

When that happens, the infant is cooled down to prevent further possible neurological damage and then slowly warmed up. Our infants are doing remarkably well after this procedure, and the practice is gaining popularity in hospitals around the country.

Here’s the story, in case you missed it: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/04/21/305495936/teen-survives-flight-to-hawaii-in-jets-wheel-well-fbi-says

…and a bit more about Total Body Cooling at Valley Medical Center: http://www.scvmc.org/specialtycenters/childrens_health/nicu/Pages/special.aspx