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Dive Reflex or a latent ability to Hibernate ?

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Well-Known Member
Aug 28, 2003
Interesting article ...


"Although hydrogen sulfide gas is toxic in high doses, it may activate some of the mechanisms that cause other animals to go into hibernation, they wrote in this week's issue of the journal Science.

Finding a safe way to do this in humans could lead to new ways to treat cancer and prevent injury or death from blood loss, or help people undergo and recover from surgery better, said the team at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

"We are, in essence, temporarily converting mice from warm-blooded to cold-blooded creatures, which is exactly the same thing that happens naturally when mammals hibernate," said Mark Roth, who led the study, in a statement.

"We think this may be a latent ability that all mammals have -- potentially even humans -- and we're just harnessing it and turning it on and off, inducing a state of hibernation on demand," said Roth, a biochemist.

Bears do it, amphibians do it, and people occasionally hibernate, too. Many cases have been documented of small children, and the occasional adult, reviving from near-drownings in icy water after their body temperatures had dropped and they had stopped breathing for more than an hour. "

Full Article here:
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Reactions: ADR and DeepThought
This article (I lost the link) describes a fellow who hibernated 3 weeks. I wonder if it was near a volcanic area (vents producing Hydrogen Sulfide, which can produce hibernatory effects) ? There are many hot springs in Japan with mild volcanic activity (I once stayed at an Inn with hot springs there, very nice but somewhat sulfurous odor).

I don't think hypothermia alone would have allowed him to hibernate so long, even with the mammalian diving reflex engaged... but see thread by Will that discusses mammalian hibernation reflex. DDeden

Hibernating' man survives for 3 weeks
By HIROKO TABUCHI, Associated Press Writer Wed Dec 20, 4:10 PM ET

TOKYO - A man who went missing in western Japan survived in near-freezing weather without food and water for over three weeks by falling into a state similar to hibernation, doctors said. Mitsutaka Uchikoshi had almost no pulse, his organs had all but shut down and his body temperature was 71 degrees Fahrenheit when he was discovered on Rokko mountain in late October, said doctors who treated him at the nearby Kobe City General Hospital. He had been missing for 24 days.

"On the second day, the sun was out, I was in a field, and I felt very comfortable. That's my last memory," Uchikoshi, 35, told reporters Tuesday before returning home from hospital. "I must have fallen asleep after that."

Doctors believe Uchikoshi, a city official from neighboring Nishinomiya who was visiting the mountain for a barbecue party, tripped and later lost consciousness in a remote mountainous area. His body temperature soon plunged as he lay in 50-degree weather, greatly slowing down his metabolism.

"(Uchikoshi) fell into a state similar to hibernation and many of his organs slowed, but his brain was protected," said Dr. Shinichi Sato, head of the hospital's emergency unit. "I believe his brain capacity has recovered 100 percent."

Uchikoshi was treated for severe hypothermia, multiple organ failure and blood loss from his fall, but was unlikely to experience any lasting ill effects, Sato said. Doctors were still uncertain how exactly Uchikoshi survived for weeks with his metabolism almost at a standstill.

In animals like squirrels or bears, hibernation reduces the amount of oxygen that cells need to survive, protecting them from damage to the brain and other organs.
If it is not an invented story, it is absolutely amazing. Though, one must be careful about what can be found in the press. If it was on an official website of a university or a medical organzation, with some more specific data, it would be more interesting.
le poisson chat said:
here's the link with the picture of the guy:


Yup, thats the story. I have my doubts about it, if he was a very fat person (like a big sumo wrestler) with a low metabolism, I would more readily accept it.

But the time period is far too long IMO in such poor conditions for an average person. Even if he did fall into a hole which had some Hydrogen Sulfide fumes (which is not rare in volcanic Japan) and hibernate, I'd still expect that after a week or ten days his system would shut down, mainly due to loss of waterand infection from the broken pelvis.

Never know, maybe it happened like he said.
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