Italian boy survives being trapped underwater for 42 minutes

The teenager jumped off a bridge in Milan

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The Independent Online

An Italian boy who fell into a canal in Milan has survived despite being held underwater for as long as 42 minutes.

The 14-year-old, who is said to have jumped off a bridge in Cuggiono with five friends into water which was just 6.5-feet deep, was in hospital for a month, Time reported.

His heart stopped beating while he was in the water and he was assumed dead, until it was restarted with a defibrillator.

Even his rescue was an incredible feat - taking a team of people and fire service divers 42 minutes to form a human chain and drag him from the murky canal bed.

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The teenager, who is half-German but has only been identified as 'Michael' by The Milan Chronicle, was attached to life support to enable his lungs and heart to recover and to keep his body oxygenated.

But after four weeks in hospital in San Raffaele, he is said to have woken, spoken to his parents and asked whether his favourite football team, Juventus, was still in the Champions League.

His doctor, Alberto Zangrillo - personal physician to the Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi - told Italian media that the boy's resuscitation was "the greatest satisfaction of my entire professional career" and said that the cold water had helped save his life because it caused a slow down of his vital functions.

The team also used a technique called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) to extract oxygen-deprived blood, warm it up and add oxygen, before pumping it back into the body, The Times reported.

After 10 days of using the technique, which mimics the function of the heart, while Michael was in an induced coma, he survived.

“After 15 days we performed an MRI scan and his brain appeared OK,” said Dr Zangrillo.

His right leg had to be amputated below the knee due to circulation problems, but he is now said to be "alert", without brain damage, and remembers what happened before the accident.

Dr Zangrillo told a press conference: "The other day, he asked us for a mojito!

"He has recovered the spirit of the kid his parents and friends knew. He is a great guy, with uncommon intelligence. Every day I talk to him and joke."

He added: “There are very big question marks about the human brain. We don’t know its full possibilities. What we do know is that you should never give up.”

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