Print 18 comment(s) - last by bldckstark.. on Jan 25 at 12:57 PM

A trauma surgeon believes that he is ready to take the next step in his research on suspended animation: human trials

Dr. Hasan Alam, a trauma surgeon at the Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), believes that he is ready to take the next step in his research on suspended animation: human trials.  His team has already demonstrated the technique in close to 200 pigs with a 90% success rate.

Many patients with severe blood loss from gunshot wounds or car accidents die before they are able to reach the operating room.  The heart can only survive for about 20 minutes without blood, and without blood the brain dies in 5 minutes.  Dr. Alam believes he can extend the survival time through suspended animation, or "asanguineous hypothermic metabolic arrest."  This process involves stopping the heart and cooling the body using an infusion of a chilled artificial solution originally developed to protect organs being transported for use in transplant surgery.  The patient's core temperature reaches 10 degrees C.  At this point, the patient has no detectable pulse or electrical activity in the brain.  To revive the patient, the potassium level is restored to normal, warm blood is transfused, and if necessary, an electrical shock is applied to the heart to restore its normal rhythm. 


In the pig studies that have been performed, the researchers induced severe blood loss by cutting a major vein and artery in the abdomen.  The animal was then allowed to bleed for 30 minutes to simulate the transit time needed to get to a hospital.  Then, a lethal cut is made in the aorta.  The animal is allowed to bleed for another 5 minutes before the cooling process begins.  In total, about 50% of the total blood volume is lost (scaled to humans, this is equivalent to 2.5 liters). The animal is kept at 10 degrees C for 60 minutes while its injuries are repaired, and the animal is then revived.  Despite having no pulse for one hour, the animals show no signs of any neurological damage afterwards.


According to SMH, Dr. Alam is requesting that his suspending animation protocol automatically be used on all patients arriving at MGH who have lost so much blood before coming to the hospital that they would likely die with conventional care.  The review process for such a proposal typically takes several months.

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Flatliners 2
By Jackyl on 1/22/2006 1:52:46 AM , Rating: 2
How did they get that artificial solution out of the body of the pigs? I would be worried if they started injecting that artificial junk into humans. There is no way for certain, that it can all be transfused out.

RE: Flatliners 2
By nomagic on 1/22/2006 3:13:41 AM , Rating: 2
You worry too much. Those junk can stay in the body as long as it does no major damage. After all, the "junk" you are referring saves life, and most operations at the same magnitude of invasiveness all do damage to the body.

During a long transport, the trauma patient can either choose to die, or to have this surgery and possibly suffer some damage to his/her body.

Removing the junk is not the focus. The practicality of this surgery is. Dr. Hasan Alam has shown that this surgery works on pigs in a "controlled" enviroment in a laboratory. However, no one knows how effective this surgery is on the field. A lot of new techniques invented in the past decade works wonder in labs but is useless on the field.

All I am saying is, a patient would be more worried about dying rather than having junk in his/her body. I think most people would agree.

RE: Flatliners 2
By ShadowD on 1/22/2006 6:53:15 AM , Rating: 2
The same thing will happen to the junk they put in as the junk that is already in the blood.. Alcohol, urine, and any other toxins are in the blood, then they get filtered out and you can guess the rest. The exact same thing will happen to this stuff. Not only that, but this 'junk' is used to keep human organs alive, and I doubt they would be using anything toxic to do that.

RE: Flatliners 2
By czarchazm on 1/23/2006 12:47:39 PM , Rating: 2
Hmm. That question is usually addressed in a HS Freshman Biology class. Let me explain. We have two organs called kidneys. They filter out toxins from the blood. Assuming this solution is a toxin, it would be filtered out through the kidneys. After a while, this process typically makes a person think, "Man, I have to piss like a race horse!" Even if the person's kidneys somehow couldn't handle this solution, we have a nice little process called dialysis. This makes cloudy minds think like new again!

By maevinj on 1/21/06, Rating: 0
RE: surprised
By Alan on 1/21/2006 11:47:48 PM , Rating: 3
All animal studies done at major universities are approved by an ethics committee. This ensures that the pigs are under anesthesia for all procedures, get pain medication afterwards, etc.

RE: surprised
By Oxonium on 1/22/2006 1:07:19 AM , Rating: 2
As much as I dislike PETA, I would hope even they would understand the the medical need for such testing. And the pigs are restored to their original state or as close to it as possible. It's not like they're testing cosmetics or making fur coats. This is a potentially life saving procedure.

RE: surprised
By Pythias on 1/23/2006 6:02:12 PM , Rating: 2
As much as I dislike PETA, I would hope even they would understand the the medical need for such testing. And the pigs are restored to their original state or as close to it as possible. It's not like they're testing cosmetics or making fur coats. This is a potentially life saving procedure.

I would strangle a thousand kittens to save one human life.

Useful for upgrades
By PrinceGaz on 1/22/2006 7:37:01 AM , Rating: 5
This could be handy for anyone who needs to upgrade their computer; instead of buying a top-of-the-range thousand dollar processor or graphics-cards, just get put into suspended-animation for a year or two and you'll be able to pick up something as good or better for less than a couple of hundred dollars.

Perhaps it's a little extreme/risky to recommend its use for that purpose though :)

RE: Useful for upgrades
By bldckstark on 1/25/2006 12:57:29 PM , Rating: 2
What you are suggesting is conventionally considered time travel. You go to sleep, wake up much later, and ouila`, you are the same age, but you are in the future. Too bad it won't work both directions tho.

Secondary subject - how fast do people age in a coma? Do people in 10 year comas age 20, 10, 5 or 2 years? Do they live longer because they aged less while "asleep", or sooner because they don't move unless moved?

sounds promising...
By MDme on 1/21/2006 11:01:22 PM , Rating: 2
how do they know that the pigs are "neurologically okay"? aside from gross observation?

RE: sounds promising...
By Alan on 1/21/2006 11:46:13 PM , Rating: 2
They did a variety of tests including looking at parts of the brain under the microscope for neuronal injury or changes in the growth or shape of the astrocytes. They also did operant conditioning -- i.e. they trained pigs to do tricks.

They gave the animals 5 min in a room with three boxes containing food (white, yellow, and blue). Only the blue box could be opened to retrieve food. The animals were expected to learn (and remember) to go directly to the blue box and open it to obtain food, without attempting to open other boxes.

I smell zombies!
By mckrautski on 1/23/2006 3:36:22 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder if this doctor is operating under an alias. It could be Herbert West in disguise.

RE: I smell zombies!
By Pythias on 1/23/2006 6:03:14 PM , Rating: 2
Where's my shovel? :P

Neurological damage
By Ibrin on 1/21/2006 11:06:23 PM , Rating: 3
They could probably tell with CAT Scans done while certain stimulus was being given (seeing food, seeing a predator). Do the scan before and after, and see if there is any difference.

By AggressorPrime on 1/21/2006 10:41:18 PM , Rating: 2
In all seriousness, this sounds pretty cool.

By msva124 on 1/22/06, Rating: 0
By AggressorPrime on 1/21/06, Rating: -1
"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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