Doctors Use Suspended Animation to Save Patients

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Have you ever watched J Law’s Passengers and marvel at what could be future technology? The induced hibernation state, preserving the body so that it can make journeys across space light years away, is a travelling feat—if only it were real.

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And yet, this so-called feat is now a step closer to becoming a reality. With a new breakthrough in physics, suspended animation is now a plausible and achievable goal. Recently, doctors progressed the procedure of freezing and reviving human beings.

Professor Samuel Tisherman from the University of Maryland School of Medicine has led a team that has officially induced a human into suspended animation.

Tisherman told New Scientist that the trial was “a little surreal” on the first attempt, explaining how the human’s blood was replaced with an ice-cold saline solution. The technique, called emergency preservation and resuscitation (EPR), is reserved for critical trauma patients with a low survival rate with or without medical intervention.

EPR involves a rapid cooling of the body by as much as 15°C, almost completely stopping brain activity so the patient can be moved to the operating theatre. A surgical team then has a 2 hour window to fix the injuries and warm the patient up before they can restart the heart.

A full account of the trial will be released in 2020, with Tisherman refusing to comment on how many patients have died during the procedure.

Although Professor Tisherman is clear that the innovative technology is not being developed to “send people off to Saturn,” the technology is nevertheless achievable.

The trials have had FDA approval; who waived the need for legal consent to treat injuries normally required from the patient.

The biggest hurdle, according to the team, is limiting the damage that can occur during the re-warming process.

“We haven’t identified all the causes of reperfusion injuries yet,” Tisherman said.

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