Putting humans into suspended animation no longer sci-fi

Source: 20th Century Fox

Today's post is way out of my comfort zone but since a lot of us in the US were on holiday yesterday when the source article hit, I wanted to bring this amazing news to your attention: doctors are about to start trials on suspended animation of human beings.

Crazy right? When I first read the post I thought it was some kind of spoof or parody. But nope, it's real. The article ran at New Scientist (thanks CNET) where we learn that the surgeons at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who are involved with the testing specifically avoid the term "suspended animation" because it sounds too far-fetched. They call it "emergency preservation and resuscitation."

The procedure will be tested on severely wounded patients. The potential patient will be a person whose heart has stopped after a traumatic injury and for whom attempts at traditional resuscitation have failed. The patient will probably have lost about 50% of their blood. The chance of survival for one of these patients is less than 7%.

At that point the doctors will replace the blood in their system with a chilled saline solution. This brings the body's core temperature down to 10° C. The heart stops, breathing stops, and brain activity stops. The person is clinically dead.

The surgeons now have two hours to repair the trauma damage, after which the saline is replaced with blood, gradually warming the body, and the heart restarted (if it doesn't start on its own) and hopefully the patient fully recovers.

UPMC Presbyterian Hospital says it gets about one trauma case per month that is a good candidate for this treatment. They will try the process on 10 such patients and compare the results with 10 patients who were treated traditionally, then refine the process and do another test.

It worked on pigs in 2000. Let's hope it works as well on humans in 2014. For a lot more details on this fascinating development, check the source article at New Scientist.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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