Italian Boy Survives 40+ Minutes Underwater

For most people, being able to hold your breath underwater for a minute or more is quite the accomplishment. While this is undeniably true, a 14-year old Italian boy who is only being identified as “Michael” may have some bragging rights he can take with him through the rest of his life as he can proudly say he survived being underwater for more than 40 minutes.

A Day of Swimming Turns Into Nightmarish Scenario

According to a Milan newspaper, Michael and some friends were swimming in a canal on the day of the incident. At one point, Michael climbed atop a bridge and, like his friends before him, dove into the canal. Shortly thereafter, it was quickly realized that something was wrong as young Michael never came back to the surface. Immediately after breaching the water’s surface, the young boy’s foot became caught on something that prevented him from resurfacing.

First responders were quick to arrive on scene, but it took them almost a full hour before they were able to free the presumably deceased boy from the water. Surprisingly, Michael had not died, but he did spend the next three months of his life in critical condition and on life-support. Shockingly, after three months, the 14-year old woke up and is now reportedly doing just fine and recovering.

According to a leading New York neuroscientist who goes by the name of Dr. Zianka Fallil, situations like this, where people are somehow able to survive prolonged periods submerged, are unusual but not completely unheard of. According to Dr. Fallil, there are two different bodily processes that come into play and may be credited with Michael’s survival.

The first possible way by which Michael was able to survive is thanks to a process known as bradycardic response, or more simply known as “diving reflex.” Though this process is primarily observed in marine animals, it has been known to occur in humans as well. Basically, when your body is submerged and deprived of oxygen, your blood vessels constrict, causing the heart to slow down dramatically, allowing it to divert blood to the parts of the body that are in most need. According to Fallil, “The body protects the most efficient organs — the brain, the heart, the kidneys — and pulls the blood away from the extremities and other, not-as-essential, organs.” Not all that much is known about the dive reflex and how it affects humans, mostly because it is difficult to replicate drowning scenarios without putting the test subjects life at risk.

Another possible process that could have played out for Michael is known as vasodilation. What happens in this process is that the body retains carbon dioxide as the result of the subject not breathing. Thanks to the excess carbon dioxide, the subject’s blood vessels widen and allow for cool blood to enter the brain. This process has also been studied very sparingly, but is known to occur in humans.

No matter what actually helped Michael survive his perilous situation, one thing is for certain; he will have a story he can take with him the rest of his life. Clearly, he is one resilient teenager.