Bangor Daily News tells story of Gill’s brush with death in Siberia

The Bangor Daily News told the story of University of Maine assistant professor of paleoecology and plant ecology Jacquelyn Gill’s near-death experience in Siberia and the lessons emerging from it. Gill traveled to to the remote village of Belaya Gora, Russia to participate in research with permafrost caves as one of four featured scientists in a documentary titled “Ice Age Fossils in the Permafrost” by London-based company Renegade Pictures, set to air on television this winter, according to the BDN. She had planned to spend 10 days in Siberia, but the trip stretched to more than a month as a result of illness. The film’s shooting schedule, including travel time, had Gill and the rest of the team working without breaks for 16-hour days. The work involved long periods of sitting, a risk factor for deep vein thrombosis (DVT), the BDN reported. The last day of the trip, Gill was more exhausted than usual. “I was struggling with one small bag to load on the truck to take us to the plane, and I just couldn’t get enough air — and then the sides of my vision were closing in. I remember thinking, ‘I am not going to die here,” Gill told the BDN. Gill spent six days in the intensive care unit before a transfer to a regular hospital room. After two weeks she was discharged, but had to wait almost 10 more days for an air ambulance to bring her back to the United States. She’s seeing a doctor in Bangor while still recovering from DVT in both legs and pulmonary embolism in both lungs, according to the report. Gill hopes her story can help raise awareness about deep vein thrombosis, both the causes and ways to prevent it. She said a fitness training program over the summer probably saved her life. “This has taught me to listen to your body,” she said. “And if you want to start prioritizing your health, don’t wait.” Despite this experience, she’s still glad she had the research opportunity. “Seeing those incredibly well-preserved ice age fossils and mummies in the permafrost caves was one of the most incredible experiences of my life,” Gill said. “Even after everything, I’m still excited to go back there.” Maine Public and WGME (Channel 13 in Portland) carried the BDN story. The Associated Press also reported on Gill’s experience; U.S. News & World Report, Charlotte Observer and The State carried the AP report.