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UMD student found in subzero conditions is ready to resume her life

Alyssa Lommel sometimes gets a piggyback ride from friend Amy Bechtold, who helps to take care of Alyssa when Alyssa’s mother, Teri, needs a break. Lommel, 19, is at home in St. Cloud recovering after spending a nearly fatal night outside in below-zero temperatures on Dec. 7 in Duluth. She has undergone amputations and skin grafts, but hopes to return to school at the University of Minnesota Duluth in the fall. (Kimm Anderson / St. Cloud Times)

Alyssa Lommel was barely clinging to life in a coma at the burn center of St. Paul’s Regions Hospital.

The 19-year-old had been airlifted from Duluth after spending nine hours outside the morning of Dec. 7. Temperatures were as low as minus 17.

Lommel was found with a body temperature of 26 degrees Celsius, two degrees colder than when most people’s hearts stop functioning.

Doctors cut open her arms in an attempt to relieve swelling and restart circulation. Her stomach was cut open to give her lungs room to expand — an effort that eventually failed, causing her to use an oscillator breathing machine.

“We were all prepared to say goodbye at one point,” said Teri, Alyssa’s mother.

But four months later, Lommel is alive and well.

Despite amputations up to the knuckles of the fingers on both hands and parts of both her feet, Lommel is completing everyday tasks while living at her parents’ St. Cloud home. She plans to be living on her own again this fall while attending classes at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Read much more about Lommel's recovery and her future plans, and watch a video interview, on the St. Cloud Times website,