This young woman was found frozen after being stranded in sub zero temperatures. Turns out she was in a frozen hibernation. The term Forced Hibernation, the behavior known as suspended animation, literally involves the sudden halting of chemical reactions in the body due to the lack of oxygen.
19-year-old Jean Hilliard was driving home from a friend’s house when her car skidded on an icy road and careened into a ditch. It was a remote gravel road, but she knew someone who lived nearby, and she started walking to his house. She was afraid if she stayed in the car she would freeze to death. But his house was farther than she thought and she just kept walking. Her legs were cold, and she was walking against the wind. She was getting more and more tired.
The last thing she remembers is reaching the foot of my friend’s driveway. Jean had trudged two miles in the blustery snow. It was 1 a.m. when she reached the driveway – and collapsed. For six horrible hours, Jean Hilliard lay crumpled and unconscious in the snow, as the 22 below zero temperatures slowly turned her into a human icicle. At 7 in the morning, Wally Nelson walked out his front door and found Jean’s frozen body. “I thought she was dead,” he said. “Her face was ghost-like.”Wally loaded his frozen friend into the car diagonally. There was no sign of life.
When they arrived at Fosston Municipal Hospital at 8 A.M, doctors were afraid she would die. “We couldn’t take her temperature because there was no place I could put the thermometer,” Dr. George Sather said. “I couldn’t open her mouth. I couldn’t raise her arm. She was frozen solid, as stiff as a log covered with ice. None of her joints were moving,” Dr. Sather said. “Her eyelids were frozen solid, and her eyes didn’t respond to light. Her skin was too hard to pierce with a needle and even later when we could get a pulse; she was only getting eight heartbeats a minute.“She was a frozen stiff, like a piece of meat out of a deep freeze.”
Those who saw her knew only a miracle could save her. Sather ordered warm, moist packs placed around the unconscious body. Six hours in the freezing winter had turned her into a human ice sculpture. “We held her hand, and we keep calling her name, praying for a response,” her mother said. “About one o’clock that afternoon she started making noises. “She asked for water, and we knew that a miracle had taken place.”Later that night. Jean’s hands and arms began to thaw. By the third day, she was able to move her legs.
Dr. Sather said. “I’ve seen a lot of people frozen like that, but I’ve never seen a case where major amputation wasn’t required, and I had leveled with Jean and her parents and told them she would probably lose her both legs. Jean spent six days in intensive care before she was moved to a regular hospital room. 49 days later, Jean left the hospital without losing a single nail.
Nearly 3 decades have past sense that sub zero night on December 20 1980. Jean is now a 56 year old woman and has made a complete recovery from her frozen hibernation.
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