Coldest woman talks about her close call

Oslo - A woman whose body temperature plunged to a world record low four months ago after she fell into an ice-packed Norwegian river spoke publicly Wednesday about her extraordinary brush with death.

"My first reaction when I woke up in hospital was one of anger that I had been rescued," said Anna Baagenholm, a 29 year-old Swede, at a news conference in the hospital where she has been recovering.

"Before (the accident) my whole life had revolved around sport, and then suddenly there I was laid out, on a respirator, effectively lifeless," she explained.

On May 20, Baagenholm fell in a river in northern Norway while skiing, and stayed immersed in 20 centimetres of ice for more than two hours.

Two companions, who prevented her floating downstream by holding her with their skis, said that after 40 minutes she showed no signs of life.

She was taken by helicopter to hospital at Tromsoe, and there her body temperature - normally 37,2 degrees Celsius - was found to have fallen to 13,8.

Yet doctors succeeded in bringing her back to life.

"It was an extraordinary medical achievement," said Dr Petter Andreas Steen, professor in the emergency services department at Oslo hospital.

The first signs of hypothermia in most people set in at 35 degrees, and human bodies normally give up the fight against cold at 33, he said.

The previous world record low was achieved by a young Canadian girl who was revived after her body temperateure fell to 14,2 degrees centigrade.

Baagenholm survived because her metabolism slowed down and because at extremely low temperatues human tissue requires less oxygen, Steen said.

Baagenholm bade a warm thank-you to her rescuers, and said the experience had even been worth it.

She remembers nothing of the acccident and suffers from partial paralysis of her hands, whose nerve endings were damaged by the cold, but she intends to resume her career as a doctor.

"I learned very clearly what it means to be a patient, and I hope to be able to put that experience into good use with my own patients in the future," she said. - Sapa-AFP

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