But thanks to an invention by a team of scientists at Boston's Children Hospital, the medical community may have a quick fix for such situations: a particle that allows humans to live without breathing, the hospital notes.
The report states the "microparticles" are made of a single layer of fatty molecules, or lipids, that surround pockets of oxygen gas and are injected into the bloodstream via a liquid solution.
In an article published in a recent issue of Science Translation Medicine Dr. John Kheir of the hospital's Department of Cardiology explained that in a "real world scenario" where an animal had a completely obstructed airway, the particles were able to keep it alive for 15 minutes without breathing, according to the hospital.
These low oxygen levels lead to organ failure within minutes.
The new oxygen foam bypasses the lungs as it's injected directly into the veins.