Neither dead or alive, knife-wound or gunshot victims will be cooled down and placed in suspended animation as a groundbreaking emergency technique is tested out for the first time. Surgeons are now on call at the UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to perform the operation, which will buy doctors time to fix injuries that would otherwise be lethal.
“We are suspending life, but we don’t like to call it suspended animation because it sounds like science fiction,” says Samuel Tisherman, a surgeon at the hospital, who is leading the trial. “So we call it emergency preservation and resuscitation.”
The technique involves replacing all of a patient’s blood with a cold saline solution, which rapidly cools the body and stops almost all cellular activity.
The technique has been proven on pigs in 2000, and this will represent the first human trials. The current method has only been established for a few hours, but this has the possibility of laying the groundwork to extend this to much longer stays in hibernation, something that could have profound implications for everything from medicine to space travel.