In the quest to fix life-threatening traumatic injuries, doctors at the University of Maryland School of Medicine are putting patients in suspended animation and operating on them.
Samuel Tisherman, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine told New Scientist that he along which a team of medics have already placed a patient in suspended animation as part of a trial it hopes to announce the results of at the end of 2020. He wouldn't say how many people have been subject to the technique and the success rate.
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Human cooled to around 10°C to 15°C
Called emergency preservation and resuscitation or EPR, the technique is only being used on patients who are suffering from acute trauma be it a gunshot or stab wounds. According to New Scientist, the patients have to be suffering from cardiac arrest and is reserved for those people who have survival rates of under 5%.
With EPR a human is rapidly cooled to around 10°C to 15°C. That is done by replacing his or her blood with saline that is ice-cold. The patient, whose brain activity has almost stopped at that point, is then moved to the operating area. Doctors have two hours to fix the injuries before the heart has to be warmed back up.
The trial, which has the backing of the US Food and Drug Administration aims to compare ten people who receive EPR with ten people who would have gotten the treatment if the proper team was available. The FDA gave the researchers and exemption in getting the patient's approval given its a life or death situation.
Pig hearts can be cooled for three hours
Tisherman and his team of researchers decided to move ahead and test the technique on humans after studies showed pigs with acute trauma can be cooled for three hours, fixed and then resuscitated.
“We felt it was time to take it to our patients,” Tisherman told New Scientist. “Now we are doing it and we are learning a lot as we move forward with the trial. Once we can prove it works here, we can expand the utility of this technique to help patients survive that otherwise would not.”