An "incredible will' to live helped save the life of a little girl who nearly froze to death in Edmonton last weekend, said one of the doctors overseeing her recovery.

Saying the child's strength was "at the heart" of her survival, pediatric specialist Allan DeCaen of Edmonton's Stollery Children's Hospital also invoked more intangible forces.

"Whether you talk about it as a greater being, or whatever your personal beliefs are," he said, "clearly something or someone was on this little girl's side."

Although doctors say it will be a few weeks before they can fully assess the damage to her fingers and toes caused by frostbite, they say she is responding normally and that her pain is being limited by morphine.

The 13-month-old girl left her bed late Friday or early Saturday and wandered outside wearing nothing but a diaper in 20 C. She collapsed in the snow and slipped into a deep coma as her body temperature plunging to half its normal level before her heart stopped.

She was found clinically dead, with no pulse, after a frantic 45-minute search by friends and family.

Doctors said her mother's immediate call to emergency services also helped save her life.

"When it comes to something as extreme as this, literally everything has to click perfectly for this kind of extraordinary outcome," said doctor Alf Conradi, also on the team treating the girl.

During a news conference Monday Conradi described how the child was gradually warmed up under a blanket full of warm air. He said just as doctors were preparing to restart her heart with a machine, it began pumping on its own.

He described her recovery as "humbling" and said it was a great example of how important a role hope plays in the pediatrics department.

Doctors said they hadn't spoken to the child's mother as of Monday but hoped that she was getting some rest after spending most of the weekend at her daughter's bedside.

Not the first time

Although extremely rare, this is not the first time a Canadian child has been revived after being frozen for so long.

It happened in Saskatchewan seven years ago, when a two-year-old named Karlee Kosolofski was locked outside in even colder temperatures for six hours.

Karlee was declared clinically dead that day, but survived. Part of a leg had to be amputated, but her father says today she is a healthy nine-year-old girl.

Robert Kosolofski also had a message on Monday for the family of the Edmonton girl. "They've got her back. They've got a second chance," he said. "Just keep working with that."

Amazing coincidence

And there's one more twist to this story. The first paramedic on the scene in Edmonton was also the first on the scene seven years ago in Saskatchewan.

Paramedic Krista Rempel says her first experience definitely helped her get through the second one.

"Having a case very similar with Karlee, it really helped me to keep calm and realize there is hope for this and she could pull through with a good outcome," Rempel said.