Suspended Animation in Clinical Trials

Scientists and doctors the UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, are planning a clinical trial that cannot be scheduled, with subjects that cannot be selected or screened, nor can they give informed consent. They will be ten patients with normally fatal knife or gunshot wounds which leads to massive blood loss and subsequent heart failure. They call the technique “emergency preservation and resuscitation,” which we know from science fiction as suspended animation.

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. "If a patient comes to us two hours after dying you can't bring them back to life. But if they're dying and you suspend them, you have a chance to bring them back after their structural problems have been fixed," says surgeon Peter Rhee at the University of Arizona in Tucson, who helped develop the technique.

The technique has been used on pigs in experiments, with very encouraging results.

The pig's heart usually started beating again by itself, although some pigs needed a jump-start. There was no effect on physical or cognitive function.

The technique will be used on ten candidates who are brought to the emergency room, then the technique will be analyzed and tweaked, and then on ten more patients. Since informed consent will be impossible to obtain, there is a way to opt-out online. So far, nobody has. Read about what exactly will happen when the time comes at NewScientist. -via Metafilter


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I'm guessing a lot of this gunshot victims will be gangbangers who probably are hopped up on any variety of illegal drugs when they're brought in rather than healthy people who aren't on drugs. That's going to skew the results, but the article didn't mention how they're controlling for that. What if they end up with results that show "this only works if you're really high on meth" or something?
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