On December 20, 1980, 19-year-old Jean Hilliard was driving to her parents' home in snowy Lengby, Minnesota when her car suddenly stalled. Unable to get the car to start, Hilliard decided to walk to a friend's house two miles away.
She got as far as his driveway when she collapsed from hypothermia. Her friend did not see her.
For six hours, she lay in the snow as the temperature plummeted to -22 degrees.
She was found by her friend the next morning. Her body was so stiff that he had to put her in his car diagonally, like an oversized piece of luggage, to get her to the hospital.
Upon arriving at the hospital, doctors found her unresponsive. The New York Times would later report that her skin was so frozen that attending physicians couldn't pierce it with a needle.
Her pulse had dropped to 12 beats per minute and her body temperature was too low to record with a thermometer.
What happened next is amazing. Watch the video below for the full story.
She left the hospital after 49 days after having fully recovered.
So how can you be frozen and still live?
There's at least one possible scientific explanation.
In the article "Is Human Hibernation Possible," published in 2008 by the Annual Review of Medicine, Dr. Cheng Chi Lee of the University of Texas' Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology notes that
"Some mammals can enter a severe hypothermic state during hibernation in which metabolic activity is extremely low, and yet full viability is restored when the animal arouses from such a state."
In a search for therapeutic uses of induced-hypothermia, Dr. Lee found a "natural biomolecule," 5' AMP, that "allows rapid initiation of hypometabolism in mammals" and that
"may eventually result in clinical applications where hypothermia has been shown to have tremendous lifesaving potential, such as trauma, heart attacks, strokes, and many major surgeries."
It is possible that Hilliard froze so quickly that her body skipped the phase where lasting tissue damage could be done and her body entered a hypometabolic state that allowed her basic life functions to continue until she was successfully thawed out.
Please share this with your friends and stay warm this winter.