University of Nevada student Hanna Lottritz was mistaken for “brain-dead” after she fell into a coma last July following a round of binge drinking.
The 20-year-old’s story is a cautionary tale for alcohol abuse, but also for the danger inherent in the contentious concept of “brain death.”
Lottritz, who turned 21 last Wednesday, said on her blog she would not be doing any shots or getting wasted to celebrate coming of legal age, and she advocated for responsible drinking, because, she said, “I don’t want anyone to go through what my family went through.”
The journalism student chugged an entire Solo cup of whiskey at a music festival last summer. She collapsed five minutes later and then had to be intubated and life-flighted to the hospital in critical condition.”I was in critical condition, suffering from acute respiratory failure and acute alcohol intoxication,” she said. “My blood alcohol concentration was .41 when I arrived at the hospital, five times over the legal limit.”
“The doctors thought I was brain dead because I was completely unresponsive,” Lottritz continued. “My pupils were sluggishly reactive, I had no corneal reflex and I wasn’t responding to verbal or painful stimuli.”
Doctors initially didn’t expect her to make it through the night, but she woke up 24 hours later.
Lottritz’s waking up so soon after her injury is where her case departs from so many others with patients who remain unresponsive for a period of time, falling into the dangerous scenario of being presumed dead, especially when medical facilities or family members are quick to remove treatment or there is a push to harvest organs.