Minn. Woman Survives Four Hours In Ice
Minn. Woman Survives Four Hours In Ice
Emergency Room doctors in Duluth, Minn., recently dealt with the coldest living person they had ever seen. A woman who fell and spent four hours in the snow and ice was brought to the ER with a temperature in the 70s. Dr. Chris Delp, who worked to get the woman's temperature back to normal, says it took an hour of chest compression to get her chest restarted.
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
We've all heard the tales about hardy Minnesotans and their ability to withstand the cold, but a story in the Star Tribune suggests that it's more than just a myth. When 64-year-old Janice Goodger arrived in the emergency room at a Duluth hospital not long ago, doctors said she was the coldest living person they'd ever seen. Goodger's body temperature was in the 70s. Her heart had stopped beating. Her skin was white as snow.
She had slipped on some ice outside her daughter's home around 5 p.m. Then she couldn't get up because of arthritis. Darkness was falling, so was the temperature, and Janice Goodger's family was away. She spent four hours there in the snow sprawled on her back until her daughter returned home and called for an ambulance. And from there, the effort to save Goodger's life is right out of a television medical drama. Dr. Chris Delp led the emergency room team at St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth. When Janice Goodger arrived, Dr. Delp says...
Dr. CHRIS DELP (St. Luke's Hospital): She actually did look dead, and by all signs. There was no absolutely no signs of life. She wasn't breathing. She wasn't moving. Her skin was absolutely white. And she literally did look like a corpse.
NORRIS: So when she arrived, her body temperature was around 70, but it continued to drop, even after she arrived at the hospital.
Dr. DELP: Yeah. It did. And we're measuring the important portion which is the core temperature. Now her extremities were even colder. So as that blood starts to circulate through those ice-cold extremities, it chills the blood even further, which drops the core temperature even lower.
NORRIS: Now, you had to work very carefully to try to warm her body. And it sounds like you had to go through a very complicated process to do this. It took quite a lot of time.
Dr. DELP: Yeah, it's a kind of a coordinated effort. It starts in the emergency department where we put a breathing tube into her windpipe and start with just very, very warm air. And at the same time we start warmed IV fluids running into her body as fast as possible. And we actually have heated lights in an emergency department bay that warms her as we're doing those other things. Then eventually we get her up to the operating room where the cardiothoracic surgeon can literally remove all of her blood, re-warm it, and put it back into her body to continue that re-warming process.
NORRIS: So, the newspaper reported that this was literally the coldest living person you'd ever seen, the coldest.
Dr. DELP: I've seen cold people before, but nothing this cold. And I've never heard of anyone being this cold and having their heart stopped for this period of time and recovering without any problems.
NORRIS: How long did it take for you to bring her temperature back to normal and then how long did it take for her to get back to her old self?
Dr. DELP: It took about an hour of chest compressions before her heart was warm enough to be restarted. And once her heart was restarted, we really didn't know what her brain function was going to be. As shocked as I was at seeing her looking like a corpse, it was even more shocking the next morning when I went up to check on her and found her bright and smiling and chatting with me. I fully expected her to still be on some sort of life support, and I certainly didn't expect her to be chatting me up the way she was.
NORRIS: Janice Goodger sounds like a remarkable woman. She sounds like good, old Minnesota stock. I love the way that she described her own hardiness in the paper there. She said that she's just a good old Norwegian.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Dr. DELP: Yeah, there's a lot of legends about how tough these people are, and I think this is a real living evidence that they're not just legends.
NORRIS: Well, Dr. Delp, thank you so much for your time. Good to talk to you.
Dr. DELP: Thank you.
NORRIS: That's Dr. Chris Delp. He's an emergency room doctor at St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth, Minnesota.
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