Her Heart Stopped for 6 Hours. She's Fine

Audrey Schoeman survived remarkably long cardiac arrest thanks to cold weather
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2019 11:55 AM CST
'It's Like a Miracle': Woman Survives 6-Hour Cardiac Arrest
Audrey Schoeman is pictured here, during an interview.   (YouTube)

Her heart may have stopped beating for as long as six hours. But Audrey Schoeman is perfectly fine, thank you very much. "It's like a miracle except that it's all because of the doctors," says the 34-year-old Brit from Barcelona, who suffered the longest cardiac arrest ever recorded in Spain. She was hiking with her husband in the Pyrenees mountains when they were caught in a snowstorm on Nov. 3, reports Reuters. Rohan Schoeman watched as his wife's speech and movement became impeded as a result of severe hypothermia. Then she fell unconscious. "I couldn't feel a breath, I couldn't feel a heartbeat," he recalls, per the BBC, explaining why he thought his wife was dead. Doctors aren't surprised. By the time Schoeman arrived at Barcelona's Vall d'Hebron Hospital, her body temperature was 64 degrees Fahrenheit and she had no vital signs.

"If she had been in cardiac arrest for this long at a normal body temperature, she would be dead," says doctor Eduard Argudo, per the BBC. "But we knew that, in the context of hypothermia, Audrey had a chance of surviving." The low body temperature had preserved her body and brain, says Argudo. That allowed doctors to remove blood and infuse it with oxygen before putting it back in her body. And as Schoeman's temperature climbed into the 80s, doctors used a defibrillator to get her heart ticking again. The result: Schoeman was released 12 days later with only mobility issues in her hands, per Reuters. For Argudo, it's remarkable, if not a miracle. After all, "there are practically no cases of people who have had their heart stop for so long and been revived." (A toddler survived after his body temperature dipped into the 50s.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.