Every cell of your body needs oxygen to live. If deprived, it will die. If too many cells die at the same time, permanent damage can result. The brain is probably the most sensitive to oxygen deprivation. If you go too long without air, you’re likely to experience permanent mental handicaps or even death. Or so we thought.
Brain Damage Caused by Lack of Oxygen
It’s well-known that drowning victims rarely recover full brain function after the incident.
In 2016, two-year-old Eden fell into a cold swimming pool (41°F/5°C) and was submerged for fifteen minutes, drowning. By the time she was pulled from the water, she had suffered hypothermia from the cold and cardiac arrest and brain damage from lack of oxygen. Emergency workers spent one hundred minutes resuscitating Eden. She was later released from the hospital after extensive therapy.
“…the patient was discharged home 35 days post drowning unresponsive to all stimuli, immobile with legs drawn to chest, and with constant squirming and head shaking. MRIs at 3 and 31 days post drowning showed thalamic injury then generalized atrophy with evolving gray and white matter injury.” (1)
Little Hope for Eden
Eden’s parents were told she would never recover and would remain in a vegetative state.
Three weeks after her discharge from the hospital, Eden began 100% normobaric oxygen (normal barometric pressure at sea level) treatments via nasal tubes under the direction of Dr. Paul Harch of the Louisiana State University’s New Orleans School of Medicine. The therapy involved two 45-minute sessions daily to start. Eden responded almost immediately, becoming more alert and showing significant neurological improvement by laughing, increased ability to grasp objects, and short speech.
Eden and her parents then traveled to New Orleans for full hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) seventy-eight days after her drowning. HBOT supplies pure oxygen to the patient in a pressurized tube or room; this allows the body to take in and carry more oxygen than it would by normal breathing of ambient air. Eden spent forty-five minutes a day, five days a week in a hyperbaric chamber for forty sessions.
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