Hypothermia saving lives?


TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – An old saying goes: “waiting is the hardest part.” True in life and in love.

Now imagine being Ashley Lower taking her husband, Steven, to the hospital for basic surgery to remove an abscess.

Only there’s nothing basic about what happened next.

“The doctor was even done and he said (Steve will) be in recovery for an hour then you can see him,” Ashley said of that day. “An hour and a half later they filled us all in a room telling us that he’s in a coma.”

Steven Lower had suffered a complication during recovery and was in a state of cardiac arrest at one point he stopped breathing for two minutes.

“When ever a patient goes into cardiac arrest and they don’t wake up afterwards we worry about what happens to the brain,” Regional Hospital’s Critical Care Co-Coordinator Ashlee Pinkston said.

Steven was immediately sent to Regional Hospital where a medical team fought not only to save Steven’s body, but his brain as well.

How? Using a device called the arctic sun which induces hypothermia.

“Which means we are going to chill the body to 32° to 34°celsius for about 24 hours,” Pinkston explained.  “It’s the only thing that’s really been proven in recent years to improve neurological function.”

You read that right. The Arctic Sun  chills the body’s core to 89° Fahrenheit almost 10 degrees below normal.

While Steven recovered from his cardiac arrest his brain and vital organs would slow down and not suffer permanent damage.

“He doesn’t seem to have any deficits, he seems to be back to normal,” Pinkston said.

This week, while the waiting may have been longer than she wanted, Ashley Lower got her husband back from the edge.

“It’s a scary thing, its something they tell you about: things can always go wrong in surgery and you don’t ever think it’ll happen to you,” she said of her husband’s surgery. “So when it does you’re not prepared for it.”

Even while in a coma Steven knows that she never left his side.

“My whole family has pretty much been here, but she’s been here the most.”

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