Audrey Mash, a patient who survived six hours in cardiac arrest after hypothermia, in Barcelona, last July.Albert Garcia
British mountaineer Audrey Mash (Kent, 37 years old) was surprised by a snowstorm in Vall de Núria (Girona) at the end of 2019, became unconscious due to severe hypothermia, suffered a respiratory arrest that lasted more than six hours - a record in the clinical history of Spain—and “came back to life” to appear on the news around the world as a medical feat.
She says, just starting the interview, that she has "almost" forgotten about the accident.
The protagonist of this story thinks that this was “the most important thing” in her life until, a few months later, in March 2020, she began quarantine: “Mine was very dramatic, but there were people who lived things a lot worst.
I had my family, I recovered without consequences...
It could have been worse
[it could have been worse]”, she closes in English, with a smile that never leaves her.
In this time, Audrey Mash has changed her life.
When asked if this is due to the accident, she hesitates: "I don't know if she has a relationship or not, but I wanted to change her."
The day she climbed that mountain she was 34 years old.
She had eight of her as an English teacher in language academies, a task that she continued until the summer of 2021, when she left her job to do a master's degree in Barcelona, where she lives.
She was always interested in language, something that has led her to study Chinese, as well as Spanish or, recently, Catalan.
That is why she decided to study theoretical and applied linguistics, with a specialization in computational linguistics.
This is important, she recalls, because it allowed her to access her new job, which she has been doing since April of this year: “I tell my former students that I used to teach English to people and now to machines”,
It took four months to return to the mountain.
First, it went to low-rise spaces, such as the route of the seven waterfalls, in Ripoll (Girona);
and little by little he set himself greater challenges, such as Carros de Foc, in the Aigüestortes National Park, or a tour of Pica d'Estats, on the border between Spain and France, the highest peak in Catalonia.
Mind you, he always travels in groups.
However, the first time she returned to the high mountains, Audrey recalls, she felt “anxious”: “Mostly because I didn't know how she was going to react... But when I did I realized that she was calm, and that's it. : I never felt like that again,” he adds.
Audrey Mash in 2019, after suffering the accident, and today.
M. Minocri / A. Garcia
Audrey's passion for high mountains has not changed since she traveled to Nepal at the age of 19 to enter the highest mountain in the world: the Himalayas.
“In the mountains I feel free”, she resolves herself.
After all, she keeps climbing to the heights.
"But not in winter anymore," she jokes, alluding to the accident that she was saved from at the end of 2019 with her husband, who since then has preferred not to climb again.
Together they got lost on November 3 in the Girona mountain of the Catalan Pyrenees, after being surprised by a snow storm.
They got disoriented.
The sensation of cold increased and Audrey fell unconscious after suffering from severe hypothermia.
Her husband had made calls and photographs that allowed the Generalitat Firefighters to trace her path.
They arrived at 3:30 p.m.
When they were found, Audrey's body did not show any vital signs: her body temperature was 18 degrees.
They were soon transferred by helicopter to the Vall d'Hebrón hospital in Barcelona.
When they arrived nearly two hours later, doctors began extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) treatment, through a machine that replaces the function of the heart and lungs.
This process also oxygenates the blood and warms it up, before returning it to the body.
The objective was to reach Audrey's tissues, as well as increase her body temperature, explained then Dr. Eduard Agudo, from the Intensive Medicine Service of the health center.
The patient's body progressively went from 20 to 30 degrees.
Six hours had passed since her heart had stopped.
An electric shock with a defibrillator caused the organ to beat again: at 9:46 p.m., she Audrey had "come back to life."
“The doctors and technology we have today are amazing.
In my case, they knew there was a possibility”, highlights Audrey, who became the person with the longest documented cardiac arrest in Spain, the doctors who treated her assured then.
Other documented cases in the world exceed eight hours.
The British woman, who appreciates the coordinated work of the emergency services, regularly stresses that she hopes that her experience will serve to save lives in similar cases.
She then recalls a well-known medical quote: "You're not dead until you're hot and dead."
She is the proof.
The few consequences that she suffered during the first weeks (lack of mobility in her fingers and occasional hair loss) were resolved over the months.
In less than 30 days she had returned to a normal life.
"A lot of people want to know what happens to us after death," he says.
“Some asked me if I knew anything about the afterlife.
But I didn't know anything... I just remember waking up in the hospital.
Others thought I didn't want to share it! ”, She exclaims with a smile Audrey Mash, at the end of the interview, shortly before returning to her new life.
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