Jan 28, 2010 -- It was a scene few would have thought possible this long after Haiti's devastating earthquake -- 16-year-old Darline Etienne pulled from the rubble, frail but still breathing and barely able to speak. Remarkably, she had no broken bones.
All of it was caught on camera by the French rescue team that saved her.
Etienne asked for her mother. The rescuers immediately gave her food and reassurance.
"She's weak," said one rescuer, "But we were able to extract her and we're confident she'll survive."
The Science of Survival
Etienne was apparently alone in the house, taking a shower when the earthquake struck, bringing all the rubble down on top of her. But the fact she was in the bathroom may have saved her life, because it left her with access to water.
Water is life for a person who is trapped.
Scientists say a 150-pound person can only afford to lose about 20 percent of his or her body weight. The body sheds five or six cups per day so without access to water, it's rare for a trapped earthquake victim to last more than three or four days. After fourteen days, that 150-pound person would have lost nearly 60 cups of water.
Darline was considerably smaller to begin with. So she had less water to lose. The water in the bathroom literally kept her alive.
"Human beings are actually remarkably resilient. They can maybe last for long periods of time in rubble, but the problem is they have access to water, food and so on." said Dr. Jeff Zaltzman, a Canadian doctor volunteering at the University of Miami's emergency room at Port-au-Prince airport.
Still, Etienne's case is confounding doctors. "Perhaps being trapped inside the rubble kept them from being exposed to the sun. And that meant they lost less water," said Zaltzman.
Hope in a Land of Devastation
Darline's is not the only miracle rescue this week.
There was also 24 year old Richmond Exantus, trapped in a store with access to cola, potato chips and beer.
And there's Rico Debrevil, 31, found Tuesday, two weeks after the quake, though some of the Army medics who treated him have doubted he had been trapped that long, but one of the doctor from Los Angeles who treated him at a mobile hospital here is convinced he's telling the truth.
"It speaks to the hope and resiliency and faith of the Haitian people," said Dr. Henri Ford, Chief of Surgery at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles.
As the French rescue team transported young Darline Etienne to the hospital, the crowd cheered. This country is badly in need of miracles.