Medical Marvel: 'I Was Dead for 25 Minutes'
updated 04/18/2011 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 04/18/2011 AT 01:00 AM EDT
There are several ways to "freeze" a patient, from applying gel pads filled with cold water to the torso and legs (as doctors did with Moore) to injecting a cooled saline solution into the veins. Doctors aren't exactly sure how it works but believe it slows the body's metabolism-delaying brain damage that usually occurs within minutes of cardiac arrest-and speeds the healing process. "It gives us tremendous hope for patients who until recently were mostly doomed," says Dr. Lance Becker, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Resuscitation Science.
A healthy mother of two, Moore has no memory of her near-fatal day or most of the days and weeks before or after. Her husband, Jacob, 32, a retail store manager, remembers every terrifying detail. "Amy's coworker called and said, 'Amy's passed out and isn't breathing,' " he says. "I freaked out." He jumped into his car, crying the entire way to the hospital. He later watched as doctors began cooling his wife. "It was the scariest," he says. "Her skin turned blue. Her face swelled up. She was ice-cold."
Just 24 hours later, doctors started to reverse the process. After they brought Moore's temperature back to normal, they told Jacob to help nurses shake Moore and yell every four hours to wake her. After one agonizing week of being kept alive with a ventilator and feeding tube, "Amy opened her eyes," Jacob says, "and she was there."
Moore's doctors still don't know what caused her heart to stop beating, so they installed an internal defibrillator to regulate her heartbeat. By the time she left the hospital two weeks after being admitted, she was able to speak, eat and walk on her own. But there was a lot she had to relearn-like where their son Chase's school is located and how to cook their favorite meals. "It was so frustrating," she says.
Still, things are getting back to normal, and every day she gives a little thanks. "My kids almost had to live without me," she says. "Now I appreciate things in life that I took for granted."