Local News

Va. Tech Students Could Be Released From Duke Tuesday

Posted August 20, 2007 3:17 p.m. EDT
Updated August 20, 2007 9:55 p.m. EDT

— Three Virginia Tech students taken to Duke University Medical Center for treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning were alert, talking and walking Monday and could be released as early as Tuesday.

Dr. Bret Stolp said the three – all 19-year-old sophomores whose names were not released – were in good condition and would receive a third hyperbaric oxygen treatment before going home Tuesday or Wednesday.

"They all perked up," Stolp said of the patients after a treatment in the hyperbaric chamber. "They all repeated to me they felt much more alert. They could think more clearly, function better, and they seemed more coordinated."

The hyperbaric – or high-pressure – chamber is filled with 100 percent oxygen and is the equivalent of being 60 feet under water, Stolp said. The pressure forces the oxygen into the patients' blood and drives out the carbon monoxide that had taken its place.

The three were rushed to Duke Sunday morning after 23 people were sickened by carbon monoxide poisoning at an off-campus apartment complex in Blacksburg, Va.

Two people remained in critical condition at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville.

"This was very heavy exposure," said Stolp, a hyperbaric specialist at Duke. "They had very high levels of carbon dioxide" in their blood.

News of the poisoning came as the university was preparing a memorial in honor of the 27 students and five faculty members whom student gunman Seung-Hui Cho killed April 26.

A Springfield, Va., woman whose daughter was killed in last spring's shootings on the Virginia Tech campus endured a new terror with the latest incident. Her younger daughter had just moved into the complex, but she was not injured.