Hurt Kiwi drinks urine to survive
A Kiwi who drank her own urine to survive three days stranded and injured in the desert, says it tastes like bad, flat beer.
Claire Nelson, 36, was found with a shattered pelvis in Joshua Tree National Park, California, by United States park rangers four days after she fell and broke her pelvis on Tuesday.
‘‘Nobody could hear me scream. I would have died by the weekend. I cannot believe I am alive,’’ Nelson tweeted from hospital after the ordeal.
Nelson told Stuff she had been hiking in Joshua Tree National Park. She climbed over boulders to get to the track below when she slipped down a sheer 7-metre drop and landed on the ground below, shattering her pelvis.
Unable to move, it was four days before she was found, fearful of rattle snakes and in agony.
But the worst part was the relentless heat which got close to 40 degrees Celsius and the only relief was holding up her T-shirt to shield her face and head.
When water ran out she drank her own urine – a survival technique learned from movies.
‘‘It tasted like really bad flat beer – it is not pleasant but it is not the worst thing.’’
The rescue helicopter would never have found her if she had not made a flag to wave them down, she said.
‘‘I thought nobody will find me at this point ... to hear the helicopter and hear them call my name.
‘‘I thought: oh my God, I am actually going to survive.’’
In Otaki, ¯ north of Wellington, her mother Maggie Hickton said she started becoming concerned when her daughter’s Instagram feed stopped getting updated.
‘‘By Thursday I was starting to think, how long do you wait?’’ she said.
Horrible thoughts went through her head – had her daughter been abducted?
Had she been bitten by a rattle snake? Hickton planned to fly over to see her daughter today.
The Joshua Tree trip was a diversion from a one-year tour Nelson was taking across Canada following 12 years living in London.
Before that, Nelson was based in Auckland but spent many of her younger years in Eastbourne, on the edge of Wellington Harbour.
Otago University renal specialist Andrew Bahn said drinking urine – which was 98 per cent water – was a good idea if dehydration was the other option. ‘‘I guess anybody would drink their own urine if you are in a situation like this, to keep yourself hydrated,’’ he said.
‘‘There is sodium in our urine which would support hydration, as the main transport protein in the intestine to support hydration is a sodium dependent system.
‘‘So, yes, to drink your own urine will rehydrate you.’’
There were some elements – such as creatinine or urea – in urine the body was getting rid of but that could be tolerated for a few days if ingested again, he said. ‘‘It might be different if you take medication that is mainly eliminated by the kidneys. This medication would accumulate in the blood if you drink your own urine and may become toxic due to the concentration in the blood.’’