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Meredith Grey: Mostly Dead or All Dead?

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As Billy Crystal's eccentric, miracle-working hermit character told us in The Princess Bride, there's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.

With Meredith's life hanging in the balance, Grey's Anatomy Insider's Seattle correspondent did some brief research to learn how dead our heroine actually is medically. What we learned, at least from the perspective of non-medical experts, is that the situation is grim, but hopeful. See below.

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Meredith Grey: Mostly Dead or All Dead?When Grey's Anatomy left us hanging last week, Meredith was floating through Puget Sound.

This week, Meredith came out of the water, completely blue from the hypothermia and not breathing.

Also? She might be dead.

So how often do people really come back from the dead?

Well, Meredith Grey was completely under water for quite some time.

During that time, she most likely inhaled some water into her lungs, which can lead to asphyxiation and drowning. But the water Meredith was in was very cold, which actually increases her chances of survival.

According to Wikipedia's article on drowning, extremely cold water slows down the body's metabolism, leading to decreased levels of oxygen and blood flow. This can mean that a person who is submerged in cold water for an extended period of time can sort of come back to life.

On the other hand, such cold water led Meredith to become hypothermic, meaning her core body temperature is dangerously low - somewhere around 81 degrees - just before she went into the light and saw Denny and Dylan.

How often do people survive such a harrowing ordeal?

According to Princeton University studies, human beings who are in severe hypothermia will appear dead, but may actually be in a "metabolic icebox," meaning, they can be revived.

The heart is probably still beating, albeit very slowly, but if enough blood is circulating, it could be enough to keep the person alive until they can be warmed up.

Apparently, there have been cases where people who were hypothermic have been given CPR for up to three and half hours and have still recovered without any long-term damage.

In short, there's still hope for our girl, Meredith
.

If you can look past the fact that she's the color of a Smurf right now and realize that the supposed best doctors in the country are all gathered around her hospital bed, you'll find a glimmer of hope that she'll pull through.

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.

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I just have to say I have the same sort of parent issues that Meredith, no father and a mother who has been sick most of my life, and the thought of her dying in that water all alone, with no one knowing where she was would be the perfect end to her "perfect life" so therefore she cannot be dead. It is just too much. I think her mother will die. That is the death I am looking for. She will see her in the "light" and her mother will apologize and go on to the afterlife and Meredith will come back. Just my opinion.

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:D you crack me up SeattleGrl.....the color of a smurf!!! LOL

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She cannot die on it>I mean,it is her show,so how are they going to put w/o her!?!?!?

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she cannot be killed cause then derek is going to die cause she is death

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I can't belive meredith dead its hard to belive Bye

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The somewhat blunt rule for hypothermic patients is that you're not dead until you're warm and dead. Meredith's last stated temp was still only at 81 degrees; she's still got to warm up by 16 degrees to be accurately described as dead. So whatever she may be by the end of this week's show, she isn't dead yet.

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You can't call time of death until the patient's core temp is normal, so they will continue to work on her (at the very minimum) until that happens. There is most definitely hope for our heroine.