Gunshot and knife wound victims placed in suspended animation during surgery? It sounds like science fiction! Suspended animation involves replacing a patient’s blood volume with cold saline in order to induce hypothermia. Doctors at the UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA will soon test this on patients with lethal injuries. This should give them more time to repair these injuries and increase chances of survival.
And if you’re thinking that this is crazy, you’re probably not alone. I read the first couple of paragraphs of this article and immediately re-checked the source to make sure I hadn’t accidentally clicked on an article from The Onion. But I hadn’t. Even though it’s true that a person can face irreparable brain damage after about 5 minutes without oxygen, cells can survive without oxygen when the body is cooled because chemical and metabolic reactions are suspended.
The technique of suspended animation has been tested successfully in pigs. Amazingly, these animals were able to be revived with no ill-lasting physical or cognitive effects! Now, the procedure will be tried on patients with no alternative treatments, likely someone with traumatic injuries who has already suffered cardiac arrest and lost most of their blood volume with little chance of survival.
Stay tuned for new developments on this trial! The advances we’ve made in medicine are amazing, and I hope that soon, there will be some very grateful patients in Pennsylvania!