Science fiction called it again!
Later this month, surgeons at the UPMC Presbysterian Hospital in Pittsburg will attempt to save likely fatal gunshot wound victims by implementing suspended animation – or what they prefer to call “emergency preservation and resuscitation”. If the procedure is effective, it will give the doctors as much as an extra two hours to fix deadly injuries.
The technique would involve replacing all of the patient’s blood with cold saline, cooling the body to a temperature that suspends the patient into a point where they were clinically dead, but still able to be resuscitated. Quite literally, a point between life and death. The patient’s body is gradually warmed up as the saline solution is replaced with blood – occasionally, it is suspected that the patient’s heart may have to be jump-started.
Well, of course, this is all theoretical. The technique has yet to be used on a human – but instead has successfully tested on pigs back in 2002. Hasan Alam, alongside colleagues at the University of Michigan Hospital, sedated pigs and then created hemorrhages to simulate gunshot wounds. The pig’s blood was drained and replaced with saline, bringing the pig’s body temperature down to 50F(10 Celsius). The injuries were then successfully treated and the saline replaced with blood. Some of the pigs had to be jump-started, as stated earlier, but there were no physical or cognitive after-effects.
The technique will be used on patients who have suffered usually fatal traumatic injuries and do not respond to the normal methods used to restart their hearts. The surgeons also do not need consent to attempt suspended animation because these kinds of wounds have only a 7% success rate and there are no other alternative treatments.