April 24th, 2014
03:06 PM ET

Humans Can Hibernate For Survival?

It's incredible the teen stowaway lived through the five-and-a-half hour flight from California to Hawaii in the plane's wheel well given the intense pressure from altitude and below freezing temperatures he experienced.

The temperature outside the plane at 38,000 ft. would be between -60 to -80 degrees Fahrenheit. With heat from the wheels and from hydraulic fluid lines, the temperature where the teen hid would be around -30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Which begs the question – how did he survive?

Answer: Hypoxia and hypothermia.

On "New Day" Thursday, Dr. John Boockvar, an expert on neuroscience, said hypoxia is the result of a lack of oxygen in the body, which can cause a person to lose consciousness.

High altitudes are known to restrict oxygen flow to the body.

Dr. Boockvar says this condition is akin to sending a person into hibernation:

"Think of an animal that has to hibernate. It goes into a deep sleep – sleeping to such an extent that all of its organs are asleep.  The body survives because you don't need the same food or oxygen requirements that you do when you're warm."

Hypothermia can also help  people survive in extreme conditions.

When your body goes into hypothermia, it redirects warm blood flow from your extremities to the core portions of the body – the internal organs and the brain – in an effort to keep them working.

After someone who is essentially hibernating and frozen gets medical attention – doctors can sometimes save lives with a device known as the Arctic Sun.

This helps physicians slowly warm a patient’s body.

Miraculously, an hour after the plane landed at Kahului Airport, the boy regained consciousness and was captured on security footage crawling out of the left main gear area of the plane.

It's still unclear if he will suffer any lasting effects from the journey.


Marcia Page, 43 – Skiing Accident


In 2001, while snowboarding on Oregon's Mount Hood, Marcia Page, 43, a neonatal nurse, fell off a 65-foot cliff.

Page laid in the snow for 45 min. at 6,000 ft. Hypothermia set in and brought her body temperature down to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. 


David Samuels, 63 – Spent Night in Snow Bank


When Wisconsin resident David Samuels, 63, was found in a snow bank he had no pulse for more than 30 minutes.

His body temperature dropped to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Here's another case where a woman cheated death.

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soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. winty

    Journos not even up to the pulse it seems:

    Sci-fi has already crossed reality. Biotech biohackers running all hooked-up and full-blown human hibernation X-periment launch too deep inner-space with test-pilot later this year. Go to slide 57 for the bio-logic low-down.


    May 3, 2014 at 10:00 am | Reply
  2. Rasha Perzell

    Please note that "Intense pressure" as described in the first sentence of the article constitutes confused physics. The pressure gets lower at altitude, not higher.

    April 26, 2014 at 7:46 am | Reply
  3. booby J

    Interesting...if we ever want to really have true space exploration, we should analyze and fully research this phenomenon with humans and animals....Its time to stop being so sensitive – we have not progressed as a race in over 30 years....

    April 25, 2014 at 9:11 pm | Reply

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