How To Live Forever

Doctors have begun human trials of suspended animation to buy more time for critically injured patients. This is reminiscent of Hollywood movies where characters wake up in steel pods during space travel having been frozen for years at a time. For more on movie realism, see our article on what Hollywood finally got right about science.

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However, this is not quite the concept Dr Tisherman of the USA has meant it for. Emergency preservation and resuscitation (EPR) uses an innovative rapid-cooling procedure to suspend life, similar to how surgeons induce hypothermia during some surgeries.

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Dr Tisherman’s EPR process, developed with the help of $800,000 from the Department of Defense, is mostly about resurrection. The idea at this stage is to use equipment like the catheters and pumps that can be found in any trauma centre to suspend the life of critically injured people in order to buy more time for surgeons to try to save them.

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EPR works by lowering the patient’s body temperature and replacing their blood with a cold saline solution. If the human trials are successful, the aim is to take the technique out into the field. For example, a paramedic might be able to use EPR to put a dangerously ill patient into a suspended state until they can be rushed to a specialist hospital. Such a system could also be used on the battlefield to evacuate injured soldiers.

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Source: The Economist

Siobhan R.// SMC Editor

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