For the first time ever, doctors have placed a human into suspended animation. For those who are unaware, this is medically referred to as emergency preservation and resuscitation. This is only being done in a unique medical trial for patients who have less than a five percent chance of surviving, typically those who suffer from gunshot wounds.
Samuel Tisherman, at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, stated that the first time he saw a person in EPR is was a “little surreal.” This trial is only eligible for those who are extremely close to death.
Essentially, the patient must have a five percent or less chance of survival, suffer from a stab or gunshot wound, lose over one half of their blood supply and have their heart stop beating. Since this is a relatively unknown surgery, we’ll break it down into laymen’s terms.
The surgery starts with all of the patient’s blood being drawn out of their body and placed into ice-cold saline. With no blood pumping through to the heart, the patient is basically legally dead. Once this happens, the subject is moved to an operating table, Newscientist.com reported.
The surgery requires around two hours to complete. Once surgery is done, the patient’s blood will be heated again and placed back into the body.
The main concern many have with this is questioning how the brain isn’t injured from a lack of oxygen during this time. Typically, within five minutes of the brain being deprived of oxygen, there is a high chance of brain damage.
This concern is bypassed by lowering the temperature of the body which gives surgeons more time to try and save the patient’s life.
All the chemical reactions that cause this brain damage are essentially slowed down to a crawl, giving doctors more time without the risk of injuring someone they’re trying to save.
Tisherman would not divulge how many people have opted in for the surgery nor how many people have survived the risky procedure.
“We felt it was time to take it to our patients,” says Tisherman when speaking about the animal testing. “Now we are doing it and we are learning a lot as we move forward with the trial. Once we can prove it works here, we can expand the utility of this technique to help patients survive that otherwise would not.”
Tisherman says to naysayers, “I want to make clear that we’re not trying to send people off to Saturn,” he says. “We’re trying to buy ourselves more time to save lives.”
If this can work the way it is intended to, this could really buy doctors valuable time with a patient literally minutes from death.