Stowaways combating extreme conditionsUPDATED 7:21 PM HST Apr 21, 2014Video Transcript
It seems incredible that someone could live through the below freezing temperatures and the lengthy lack of oxygen. There have also been other documented cases of airline stowaways surviving, but it's a battle against the extremes.. KITV 4's Paul Drewes takes a look and continues our team coverage. 19-38 show Hawaiian Airlines jet taking off The data from the flight shows the Hawaiian Airlines jet quickly started climbing after take off...reaching 21,000 feet in 10 minutes. As it soared higher, the amount of oxygen in the air dropped. Outside of the pressurized cabin, anyone would soon start to feel the symptoms of altitude sickness. 4:26-4:36 "you can get a headache, you can have tunnel vision, ringing in your ears, there are a number of manifestations of hypoxia - of course you get sleepy" The air we breathe at sea level contains about 21 percent oxygen. The top of Mauna Kea on the Big Island has about 12%... That number drops down to just 5% at the plane's cruising altitude of 38,000 feet -- and that was where the flight stayed for four and a half hours... 1:35 "he was right on the edge for what you need for survival" Dr. Macris knows how much oxygen people really need. He runs the University of Hawaii's hyperbaric treatment center. Here patients receive different quantities of this essential gas at various pressures. When he heard the news of a stowaway on a flight from the mainland he feared the worst. 12:27 "at first I thought he was going to be in a coma, then I saw him on a stretcher and I was absolutely amazed" In his experience, Dr. Macris believes the teen huddling in the wheel well will not remember much of his near-fatal trip, blacking out long before cruising altitude was reached. 3:58 "he likely lost consciousness and was somewhat hypothermic at the time" That lowering of his body temperature may have been the reason the teenager is still alive. Because as the body cools down, humans start to hibernate. 7:49 "when you're cooled down, your metabolism slows down and your body has less of a requirement for oxygen" Paul Drewes KITV 4 news The teens age may also have played a part in his survival, as younger people are more resistant to altitude sickness. And even though he was able to regain consciousness, he is not out of the woods -- the teen may still have suffered some brain impairment from his incredible flight.