"Daktari, could you evaluate this patient in Casualty (i.e. ER)?"
Sure. What happened?
"He was found at the bottom of a well. He had gone missing Wednesday night. He's somewhat mentally handicapped, and had just wandered off. They went looking for him, and found him at the bottom of the well this morning."
He went missing Wednesday night?
But it's Monday morning.
I went over to the stretcher. We hadn't been able to get a pulse or a blood pressure, or a oxygen saturation on his extremely cold and wrinkled body. I tried to listen to his heart, but could barely hear it beating over his loud respiratory secretions. He was on oxygen by a face mask and unresponsive. By all accounts, it looked as if he had arrived just in time to die. We piled the blankets on, and then ordered some labs, afraid that, after 5 days at the bottom of a well, his kidneys had shut down and severely messed up his electrolytes.
He spent the night in the ICU, and in the morning his labs were back (things can take a while around here).
Normal. Everything was normal, and he was awake. The nurse who had been talking with him overnight said that she hadn't noticed any kind of mental handicap and concluded that it must be pretty mild. He was discharged home the next day.
I haven't ever seen a clearer demonstration of cryopreservation. I'm quite confident that his risk of dying would have been great, had it not been that his body had gotten so cold that his physiology had just frozen in time. Another wonder of the human body.