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Suspended Animation Becomes a Reality, Human Trials Underway

| 29 Mar 2014 05:40

Doctors are testing the use of suspended animation to save patients who otherwise couldn't be treated in time to save their lives.

The line between modern technology and science fiction gets a little thinner every day. The latest future tech to become a reality is suspended animation (or cryostasis, or whatever you want to call it) - the process of freezing a person so they can be reanimated at a later time. Doctors at a Pittsburgh hospital are currently beginning human trials on gunshot victims; the hope is that this method will buy surgeons extra time to save patients from normally fatal injuries.

The process of suspended animation - or as the doctors prefer, "emergency preservation and resuscitation" - is surprisingly simple. The patient is cooled to a temperature of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit as their blood is gradually drained and replaced with a cold saline solution, slowing cellular activity to a standstill. The process takes around 15 minutes, and while it does technically leave the patient dead as a doornail, the patient can be revived by warming them back up and cycling their blood back into the body.

Even if this technique gains traction, don't expect to accidentally wander into a machine and get frozen for a thousand years; the body can only survive in this state for a few hours while the surgery is performed. UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh will give it a test run on ten people who suffer life-threatening traumatic injuries and don't respond to normal methods of resuscitation. Since these injuries have a very high fatality rate with no alternative treatments, surgeons don't actually need the patient's consent to attempt this experimental procedure. After the initial trials, the doctors will decide whether or not to expand the treatment to more locations.

Source: Digital Trends

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