Student found unconscious in subzero cold doing better, may still need amputations

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Doctors have upgraded the condition of a University of Minnesota Duluth student found unconscious in subzero cold earlier this month from critical to serious, hospital officials said Tuesday.

The hospital confirmed Alyssa Jo Lommel’s current condition to WDIO-TV and The Associated Press.

Lommel was taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul after being diagnosed with hypothermia and severe frostbite.

Family members continued to report signs of progress on Lommel’s CaringBridge website, the Duluth News Tribune reported. She is now breathing without the aid of a ventilator and is being weaned off heavy medications. She is able to speak in a soft voice and eat ice chips.

The CaringBridge page also reports that doctors “are getting close to being ready to start doing” some amputations sometime in the next two weeks.

Lommel still doesn’t fully understand what happened to her and hasn’t been allowed to see her hands when the dressings have been changed, the website said.

Her family planned to spend Christmas Eve watching the movie “Christmas Vacation” with Lommel in her hospital room.

Police say Lommel, a sophomore from St. Cloud, had been out drinking with friends Dec. 6 and was dropped off at her Duluth house around midnight. A passer-by spotted Lommel on the front stoop of the house next door about nine hours later. The temperature had dropped to 17 degrees below zero that night.