UK woman comes back to life after 40 minutes of being declared clinically dead

What are the chances of coming back unharmed after such an extraordinary amount of time – say, 40 minutes? Picture: Pexels/Beyza Kaplan

What are the chances of coming back unharmed after such an extraordinary amount of time – say, 40 minutes? Picture: Pexels/Beyza Kaplan

Published Jan 3, 2024


In the realm of medicine and human survival, stories of individuals being declared clinically dead only to return to life with no health issues are exceptionally rare and, frankly, nothing short of miraculous.

Clinical death is defined as the cessation of blood circulation and breathing, which typically leads to an irreversible loss of brain function after an extended period.

But what are the chances of coming back unharmed such an extraordinary amount of time, say, 40 minutes?

In a remarkable recovery that has captured the attention of medical experts and the public alike, North Yorkshire mother Kirsty Bortoft was revived after being clinically dead for 40 minutes, reports Times Now.

Before her incredible revival, Kristy had three heart attacks, which left her in a medically induced coma.

But her husband, Stu, refused to give up hope. He remained at her side, waiting for a sign of improvement.

And then, against all odds, after 40 minutes without signs of life, Bortoft’s heart started beating again.

Even more extraordinary is the fact that, upon waking from her coma, scans showed no damage to her heart or lungs – organs that typically suffer after extended periods without oxygen.

First, it’s important to understand what is supposed to happen to the body during a prolonged period of no physiological activity. Medical experts says brain cells begin to die within four to six6 minutes after oxygen supply has been cut off. The process, known as cerebral anoxia, rapidly leads to irreversible brain damage and, ultimately, brain death.

Studies in resuscitation science, such as those published in Circulation and Resuscitation, highlight that the chance of survival decreases significantly with each passing minute after cardiac arrest, and neurological outcomes tend to worsen.

Attributing knowledge from Dr Sam Parnia, a leading expert in the field of resuscitation and the director of resuscitation research at Stony Brook University School of Medicine, recovery without neurological deficits after such a long period of clinical death is exceedingly unusual.

Parnia’s work, including his contributions to the Aware study, indicates that while resuscitation efforts have improved, the odds remain stacked against those who undergo extended periods without a heartbeat.

However, there have been isolated incidents, detailed in case studies, where patients have defied thee odds. A key factor in such recoveries is the cooling of the body, known as therapeutic hypothermia, which can protect the brain by slowing its metabolic rate.

The procedure is supported by organisations such as the American Heart Association, based on evidence that it can improve outcomes for individuals who have suffered cardiac arrest.

But even with therapeutic hypothermia, full recovery after 40 minutes of clinical death is not something that is commonly expected or observed in medical practice.

Each minute of oxygen deprivation compounds the damage done to the brain and vital organs, often leading to a spectrum of severe, long-term complications if the individual is revived.

To sum it up, the likelihood of returning to a normal, healthy life after being declared clinically dead for an extended period, like 40 minutes, is extraordinarily low.

While the human body is capable of remarkable feats, and while medical advancements have certainly pushed the boundaries of survival, the narrative of returning unscathed from the brink of death for such a duration remains largely in the realm of the extraordinary.

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