Interview: UNR Student Recounts The Night Of Partying That Put Her In A Coma

Jan 23, 2016

July 26, 2015: A photo from the emergency room an hour after Hanna arrived at Renown Regional Medical Center. At this point, Hanna was not responding to verbal or painful stimuli and the ventilator was breathing for her.
Credit Lottritz Family / hlottritz.wordpress.com

Hanna Lottritz is a journalism student at the University of Nevada, Reno and she recently wrote an essay that has gone viral. It’s called “Why I won’t be taking shots on my 21st birthday" and it candidly shares the story of how Hanna ended up in a coma after a night of drinking in Yerington.

Hanna stopped by KUNR to talk with our news director Michelle Billman about what happened.

While out with a group of friends at the Night In The Country Music Festival in Yerington last summer, Hanna joined in on a drinking contest. 

"We were chugging from a bottle of whiskey, and then, I have no memory after that," she says.

Credit hlottritz.wordpress.com

A friend saw Hanna collapse and realized that she was having difficulty breathing. That friend quickly got Hanna help by taking her to the festival's medical tent. 

"She's the reason why I'm still here," Hanna says, shuddering at the thought that her friend could have simply tried to let her "sleep it off," a common mistake that can lead to death. 

Hanna was soon taken to the hospital, where she remained unresponsive for 24 hours. After surviving this ordeal, Hanna was encouraged by family members to share her story in the hopes that it might help someone else.

When she did, by posting an essay on her personal blog earlier this month, Hanna didn't realize that she would be sparking a national dialogue. Within just a few days, the piece "blew up" online, appearing in the Huffington Post, Buzz Feed, and Cosmopolitan. It's also been translated into other languages.

"It's from a different perspective than what we usually hear," Hanna explains. "We might hear this from a doctor or a parent who has lost a child, but hearing this from the perspective of someone who has experienced severe alcohol poisoning--it's different. I think it's a more raw warning than coming from somebody who's older."