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Teen Survives Cross-Country Flight Stowed in Wheel Well

Summary: It seems like something out of a movie, but the recent case of a teen stowing away in the wheel well of a plane, surviving from CA to Hawaii, is very real.
Air Date: 4/25/14
Duration: 10
Host: Leigh Vinocur, MD
Guest Bio: Hans House, MD
Dr. Hans House is an emergency physician in Des Moines, IA. He has been a member of ACEP’s Board of Directors since 2011. Dr. House is the Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Chair for Education at the University of Iowa. He is also residency program director at the University of Iowa.
Teen Survives Cross-Country Flight Stowed in Wheel Well
It seems like something out of a movie, but the recent incidence of a teen stowing away in the wheel well of a plane, surviving all the way from California to Hawaii, is very real.

Special guest, Dr. Hans House, has actually seen this happen before. When Dr. House was at UCLA, a young man was brought into the trauma center after stowing away on a flight from Tahiti to Los Angeles. He was covered head-to-toe in oil, extremely cold to the touch and very discombobulated. His mind was basically "scrambled" from being so cold and being at such a high altitude for so long.

But, despite the conditions, both of these young men survived.

Are these examples of medical miracles?

One factor in both cases involves the concept of hypothermia.

When exposed to extremely cold temperatures, your body starts to shut down certain mechanisms, slowing your heart rate, breathing and mental function.  This is a similar effect to what happens in hibernation in animals.

Medical advances have actually started to use hypothermia after certain health emergencies, including cardiac arrest. It helps protect the brain from damaging free radicals.

Unfortunately, in both men, mental function will likely not ever be the same simply due to the length of time spent with low oxygen levels.

Certainly, it's not something you want to attempt, even if you're a skilled adventurist or magician.

Join Dr. House as he explains how these two men survived, despite the odds.
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