First “Suspended Animation” Trials Aren’t Actually Suspended Animation—They’re Kinda Better
After all, who needs interstellar space travel when you're currently bleeding out all over your carpet?
Have you been stabbed recently? If so, you should probably go get some medical assistance and possibly also some counseling for Internet addiction, because you really should not be online right now. Also, in the future, doctors might be able to chill your body to keep all that blood from coming out of you so quickly. So look forward to that.
Next month, the first human trials for just such a procedure will take place at the UPMB Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, where ten lucky victims of fatal injuries (obviously luck is relative in this particular instance) will have their blood temporarily replaced with a cold saline solution that would rapidly lower their core body temperature to 10 °C, slow down their biological functions and, hopefully, delay blood loss-related death. Which is sort of ironic when you consider that they have to remove all of the patient’s blood for it to work, but presumably, they’ll put it back where they found it after they’re able to treat all the injuries.
This sounds like a pretty terrifying prospect, considering that the patient will technically be “clinically dead” while undergoing this process. But if it works, it would do a lot to curb the rate of blood loss, which ups the chances of survival for many wounded patients. The idea for this project came from military surgeons in the Vietnam war, who noted that blood loss was the leading cause of death in the first five to twenty minutes after an injury, even one that would not have been fatal in a typical emergency room.
Successful clinical trials were also performed on pigs in 2000; those who were “preserved” had a 90% survival rate. L.et’s try not to think about all the pigs they had to straight-up murder in those tests, though.
While the press is championing this as the first step towards suspended animation, the scientists behind the trials are hesitant to use that particular term to describe what they’re doing. “We are suspending life, but we don’t like to call it suspended animation because it sounds like science fiction… we call it emergency preservation and resuscitation,” Dr. Samuel Tishman told the New Scientist back in March when the project was first announced.
To be fair, science fiction is also full of robots and spaceships and we have no problem calling those what they are. But Tishman has a point: we shouldn’t be calling it suspended animation anyway, because that term usually connotes a longterm type of stasis associated with space/time travel and that’s not what this is. It can only be prolonged for four hours, and it’s certainly not advisable if you aren’t nursing a mortal wound. You now, because of the “clinically dead” thing. So no human popsicles yet, buddy. You’ll have to experience time the normal way, slowly and in the right order.