Doctors Are Basically Testing Out ‘Suspended Animation’

Posted by Bob Muir on May 27, 2014 in Science |

Suspended Animation

Suspended animation is usually stuck in the realm of science fiction, but some scientists are testing out a similar process. Because of the differences between what they’re doing and what we expect, they prefer to call it “emergency preservation and resuscitation.” Basically, their goal is to suspend life to keep patients alive during dangerous operations through the use of internal cooling. A patient’s blood is completely removed and replaced with a cold saline solution, slowing down metabolism and reducing oxygen needs. The body cools to about 50ºF, basically inducing hypothermia. This will supposedly help buy time for important surgery for patients suffering from a massive heart attack or a shooting. A heart-lung bypass machine restores blood circulation and oxygenation for resuscitation.

The trials are currently being tested on 10 patients expected to die from their injuries, with survival rates less than 7%. For now, this is only for those who have “suffered cardiac arrest after severe traumatic injury, with their chest cavity open and having lost at least half their blood already,” according to CNET’s Michelle Starr. The procedure has previously been tested on pigs successfully, though some pigs needed their heart jump-started.

The study is being performed at the UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA. Because of the nature of the trials, informed consent from patients isn’t possible, so the trials are being performed under an exception-from-informed-consent process. If you live in the area and aren’t comfortable with the idea, you can opt out of any potential trial. But hopefully this sort of thing is successful, because not only would it benefit healthcare in the long run, but those of us who want to travel through space for months at a time.

Source: CNET

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