X-Message-Number: 28785
From: "Chris Manning" <>
Subject: News item - Japan - Missing man lies dormant 24 days
Date: Wed, 27 Dec 2006 12:57:40 +1100

Missing man lies dormant 24 days
Justin McCurry, Tokyo
December 22, 2006

A JAPANESE civil servant has described how he survived for more than three weeks
in a mountain forest without food or water in what doctors believe is the first
known case of a human going into hibernation.

Mitsutaka Uchikoshi went missing on Mount Rokko in western Japan on October 7 
after a barbecue with colleagues. Rather than joining them for the return trip 
by cable car, the 35-year-old decided to walk down the mountain, but lost his 
way, slipped in a stream and broke his pelvis.

"On the second day, the sun was out, I was in a field, and I felt very 
comfortable. That's my last memory," he said, soon before being discharged from 
Kobe City General Hospital on Tuesday. "I must have fallen asleep after that."

When a passing climber found him 24 days later, Mr Uchikoshi's body temperature 
had fallen to just 22 degrees, he had a barely discernible pulse and was 
suffering from multiple organ failure and blood loss.

Doctors who treated Mr Uchikoshi believe he lost consciousness after his fall 
and that his body's natural survival instincts kicked in, sending him into a 
state akin to hibernation as the temperature on the mountain dropped to as low 
as 10 degrees.

"He fell into a state similar to hibernation and many of his organs slowed, but 
his brain was protected," Dr Shinichi Sato, head of the hospital's emergency 
unit, told reporters. "I believe his brain capacity has recovered 100 per cent."

Doctors said they did not expect him to experience any lasting ill effects.

Experts say it remains unclear how he managed his extraordinary feat of survival
with his metabolism almost at a standstill.

In 2001, a Canadian toddler wandered outside at night in sub-zero conditions and
was later found by her mother, almost frozen solid. Despite the fact that she 
was pronounced clinically dead - her heart had stopped beating for two hours and
her temperature had dropped to 16 degrees from the normal 37 degrees - Erika 
made a full recovery.




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