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The stuff of science fiction is, slowly but surely, becoming reality-- and it has the potential to save human lives...
The stuff of science fiction is, slowly but surely, becoming reality-- and it has the potential to save human lives. Suspended animation is a technique ER doctors can use to revive patients by inducing a condition that resembles hypothermia. It is a process of slowing or stopping life processes without terminating them.
Victims of trauma, such as knife-wounds or gunshot injuries, are cooled through a process of withdrawing blood and replacing it with a cold saline solution. This lowers body temperature, thus slowing bodily functions and reducing the need for oxygen. Being in this state of suspension buys patients precious time, allowing doctors to operate on injuries that would otherwise be fatal.
This groundbreaking treatment was successfully tested on pigs in 200 by Dr. Peter Rhee, with promising results. After the treatment of the pigs' injuries, they were subsequently warmed up by replacing the cold saline solution with blood. This month, suspended animation will be used on humans for the first time by UPMC Presbyterian doctors. In order to test this treatment effectively, researchers must find appropriate subjects: those who have suffered a cardiac arrest after sustaining gunshot or stab wounds.