Thirty eight year old Amy Otteson faced her worst nightmare earlier this month. She and her husband, forty one year old Dave, were on holiday at their cabin in Gunnison Colorado along with most of the extended family who had nearby cabins. Dave had returned to work that day leaving Amy to look after the three children. While Amy was getting five year old Ryan (note to parents everywhere, Ryan shouldn’t be the name of your daughter) and four year old Kirk out of the bath in time for dinner, her two year old son Gore (and you thought Ryan was bad) managed to open the back door of the cabin and wandered out into the wilderness. As soon as Amy realised he’d gone missing she started calling and looking for him, soon calling twenty other family members in to help search. By the time Gore had been found he’d been missing for over twenty minutes, and his body was trapped under a log in an irrigation ditch over three hundred and fifty feet from the cabin. He wasn’t breathing. Amy’s father Kirk (a retired surgeon) and cousin Suzanne (a nurse) immediately began CPR until paramedics arrived and moved him to a children’s hospital in Denver where his heart was finally restarted. He had been clinically dead for an hour by this point.
So there you have it, every real mother’s worst nightmare. A child slips away and dies. They’re brought back but after so much time has passed that they’re obviously going to be severely brain damaged. This is the reality Amy and Dave Otteson were facing up to, yet it never happened. You see, temperatures in that valley drop to two degrees centigrade at this time of year and, combined with the child’s age, this produced a rare state of hibernation where the entire body slows down and needs less oxygen to keep running. This rare state would probably not occured in someone older who had more control of their body but as Gore was so young he succumbed to it easily. When his grandfather and cousin started CPR they kept his system further oxygenated. These two factors staved off any damage that could have been caused by lack of oxygen to the brain, but Gore wasn’t out of the woods yet. The ordeal he’d been through meant that his brain was quite vulnerable and doctors decided to try a controversial treatment to bring him out of it. They lowered his body temperature to a steady thirty two degrees centigrade for forty eight hours to minimise his brain activity and give it a chance to recover. After his temperature was raised again he woke up as good as new.
So there you go folks, the boy who died for an hour and lived to tell the tale.