Man Survives by Going into Hibernation

February 4, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. hibernation (n.) 
[hi-ber-neyt] – (for some animals) state of long and deep sleep wherein bodily functions are slowed down, usually during winter
Example: Bears go into hibernation to preserve energy during winter.

2. descend (v.) [dih-send] – to move or go down;  to pass from a higher place to a lower place
Example: The elevator descended from the second floor to the ground floor.

3. multiple (adj.) [muhl-tuh-puhl] – made up of many parts or elements
Example: It took the patient two months to recover from multiple injuries.

4. baffle (v.) [baf-uhl] – to confuse or puzzle
Example: Difficult math problems in the exam baffled the students.

5. physiological (adj.) [fiz-ee-uh-loj-i-kuhl] – having to do with how the body normally functions
Example: The patient was released from the hospital as soon as his physiological condition became stable.

Read the text below.

A Japanese man has mysteriously survived after a mountain-trekking accident led him to fall into deep sleep, leaving him without food or water for 24 days. His doctors speculate that he might have gone into a form of hibernation.

Mitsutaka Uchikoshi went missing in Mount Rokko in western Japan after he separated from his hiking party to descend the mountain on his own. Doctors think he accidentally tripped and lost consciousness. But Uchikoshi only recalled lying on the grass under the sunshine and eventually falling asleep. While unconscious, he was exposed to very cold weather, without having any food and water.

Twenty-four days later, he was found with almost no pulse, organs shut down, and a body temperature at 22°C (degrees Celsius). After a few months of treatment for severe hypothermia, multiple organ failure and blood loss, he fully recovered. However, doctors are baffled at how he survived.

Uchikoshi's doctor, Shinichi Sato, believes his patient fell asleep at a very early stage of hypothermia, which is similar to falling into a state of hibernation. This could have protected his brain functions from damage.

This unique case would be revolutionary if it really happened, says hibernation expert Hiroshi Shiomi from a university in Hiroshima.  For years, scientists have thought about the possibility of human hibernation and how it could help slow down the death rate of cells.

Doctors are also amazed because aside from surviving for days with such a low body temperature, Uchikoshi lived without having any food or water. Humans can survive without food for a long time, but lack of fluids can quickly lead to dehydration and death.

If proven to be true, Uchikoshi's survival would definitely be a physiological achievement.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A 

     What can the body do that amazes you? Please explain your answer.
     What do you think the world would be like if humans are able to fully use their bodies?

Discussion B

     What would you do to survive if you were by yourself in a strange place (e.g., deserted island, mountain, etc.)?
     Which do you think will most likely help someone survive: mental or physical strength? Please explain your answer.


February 4, 2012