Doctors Put a Patient in Suspended Animation for the First Time
by Claire Bugos/Smithsonian.com
For the first time, scientists have used therapeutic suspended animation to purposefully induce hypothermia and slow organ functions in patients with traumatic injuries, such as gunshot and stab wounds. The procedure, called emergency preservation and resuscitation (EPR), prolongs the amount of time that surgeons have to operate on a patient by up to two hours, reports Helen Thomson for New Scientist. At least one patient was put into suspended animation for surgery, but the nature of their injuries and whether they survived have not been announced. The clinical trial is still ongoing.
When a person sustains an acute trauma injury, surgeons typically have mere minutes to stitch up the wound before the victim suffers from severe oxygen or blood loss. Patients who lose more than half their blood often experience cardiac arrest and typically have about a five percent chance of survival, Thomson reports. Some wounds that might otherwise be easily tended can’t be patched up before a patient dies from bleeding out.
In an EPR procedure, surgeons pump ice-cold saline into the aorta (the main artery exiting the heart) at a rate of at least a gallon per minute…….