Human Hibernation, a Story of Survival

human hibernation

Mitsutaka Uchikoshi is not only lucky, he is baffling the world with how he survived 24 days in a hypothermic state after an unfortunate mountain climbing accident. Scientist have been trying to find out how to put humans in a hibernation state for years. If Uchikoshi can do it, scientist may be able to replicate it.

Mitsutaka Uchikoshi was a 35 year old man that went on a picnic in the mountains with a group of friends. After they were finished, his friends decided to take a cable car back, but Uchikoshi decided to hike back on one of the trails by himself.

On his way down he slipped and fell. The fall broke his hip and hit his head. He was unable to move and was forced to lay there for 24 days in hypothermic temperatures. On the 24th day a passing climber found him and was able to get him help.

The doctors determined that he was hypothermic, cold to the touch, and his organs were failing. However, they also found he was in an unusual state that was "similar to hibernation." He was kept at the hospital for further monitoring and tests, and was discharged after 50 days without any permanent injuries.

According to the University of Oxford the process of slowing your body down into a state of hibernation is called torpor.

Technically it refers to a regulated state of reduced metabolism, meaning the chemical reactions in an organism’s body that keep it alive slow down. Heart rate, breathing and energy consumption all dramatically decrease and body temperature can also fall.

Uchikoshi must have went into a form of torpor state, which slowed his body down to keep him alive. Scientists are actually able to put humans in this torpor state with specialized drugs. They do this often with cardiac surgery in order to protect the patients when blood flow is reduced. However, they have not figured out how to do this at will like some animals. This still remains a mystery.

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