'The doctors thought I was brain dead': 21-year-old reveals how horrifying night of partying almost killed her

By Kirstin Buick
18 January 2016

The first thing she remembers is her mom holding her hand, telling her she was going to be okay. She had just come out of a 24-hour coma and was drifting in and out consciousness. She was lucky to be alive.

The previous 48 hours were the worst of her life, Hanna Lottritz a journalism student at the University of Nevada in the US, revealed in a brave tell-all blog post.

"I am writing this because I didn’t realise the importance of drinking responsibly until I was waking up from a coma," the pretty brunette wrote. "I don’t want anyone to go through what my family and I went through."

It all started out innocently enough, at the Night in the Country music festival in Yerington, Nevada, in July last year. After a fun day playing foosball with friends, Hanna went to watch country stars Joe Nichols and Jake Owen in concert. There she had two beers.

But Hanna's friends had all been drinking throughout the day and she felt the pressure to catch up. It was then that her problems started, the aspiring journalist admitted.

"I was beginning to feel a little bit of a buzz and drifted off from the people I went to the concert with," she blogged.

"I ended up at a campsite where I found some of my other friends. I am a competitive person by nature and this group was mostly guys who (for some reason) I promised I could outdrink."

It was this 'catch-up culture' that saw Hanna and one of her friends competing to take the longest chug from a bottle of Black Velvet Whiskey.

"Immediately after this I told my friends I felt fine, and about five minutes later I collapsed. I wasn’t breathing.

"My friends picked me up and started carrying me to the medical tent. From there I was intubated and taken to Renown hospital in Reno, Nevada via care flight. Meanwhile, the police showed up at my house to tell my parents to meet me at the hospital."

Hanna in the emergency room an hour after she arrived at Renown hospital. PHOTO: hlottritz.wordpress.com Hanna in the emergency room an hour after she arrived at Renown hospital. PHOTO: hlottritz.wordpress.com

Hanna had a blood alcohol level of .41, five times over the legal limit in the US, when she arrived at hospital. Her condition was critical.

"The doctors thought I was brain dead because I was completely unresponsive."

But miraculously, she was not.

"I finally woke up about 24 hours after I arrived at the hospital. I had a tube down my throat and my hands were restrained so I couldn’t pull it out.

"The doctors and nurses told me how lucky I was to be alive. They told me that they didn’t think I would make it through the night.

"They asked me if I was trying to kill myself by drinking so much. This question hit me the hardest. From my hospital bed in the Intensive Care Unit, my eyes were opened to the seriousness of being irresponsible with alcohol. The next day when I was discharged from the hospital, I realised that the way I looked at alcohol would be changed forever."

Hanna is grateful that some of her friends had the sense to get help when they did.

"I could have easily been taken advantage of when I passed out," she wrote.

"I could’ve been left alone to 'sleep it off'. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase, 'Let them sleep it off, they’ll be fine in the morning,' but I’m alive today because my friends got me help."

Hanna's ordeal took its toll on her family, she admitted to Buzzfeed, for which she feels incredibly guilty.

“That night they didn’t think I was going to make it, and now whenever I leave the house my mom’s anxiety is through the roof.”

The bruises from blood tests during Hanna's time in hospital were still visible on her wrists several days after she was discharged. PHOTO: hlottritz.wordpress.com The bruises from blood tests during Hanna's time in hospital were still visible on her wrists several days after she was discharged. PHOTO: hlottritz.wordpress.com

Naturally, Hanna's 21st wasn't the raucous party often expected of the occasion -- particularity in the US where the legal drinking age is 21.

"I plan on having dinner and maybe a glass of wine with my closest friends and family."

Hanna's story has since gone viral, garnering more than 300 000 views on her blog alone -- but she's had to face some serious backlash too. In particular, readers criticised her for having a birthday drink with some calling her an “alcoholic.”

But Hanna says they're missing the point.

“I want people to know that alcohol didn’t necessarily do this to me, it was my stupid decisions,” she said.

“This type of thing can happen to anyone, and seeing it instead of just hearing about it will hopefully make at least someone realize that.”

Additional sources: buzzfeed.com, news.com.au

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