Suspended Animation Earns FDA Approval
Friday, September 16, 2011
(graphic: cover of The Stars are Ours by Andre Norton)
Once considered the dream of science fiction writers, the use of suspended animation has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for clinical trials.
Spearheading the futuristic technique is Dr. Peter Rhee, who gained national prominence earlier this year in helping save the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in the head January 8.
Rhee is a former battlefield surgeon for the U.S. military who researched suspended animation for 15 years before he used a related cooling procedure on Giffords while he and a surgical team worked to repair the bullet wound in her brain.
Doctors at Harvard and Yale are also working on suspended animation techniques.
With suspended animation, Rhee and others plan to inject test patients who have fatal injuries with a cold, potassium-rich solution (currently used to preserve kidneys for transplant) that will stop their hearts but protect their brains. The procedure brings the body’s temperature down to a level of severe hypothermia (about 50 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees Centigrade), allowing surgeons to perform lengthy operations that would not be possible under normal conditions, because the patient would die before completion.
Speaking to the Arizona Daily Star, Rhee defined suspended animation as “when you are no longer alive but you are not dead.”
The first testing will begin at a medical center in Baltimore, and if successful, more trials will occur at five locations around the country, including Tucson, Arizona’s University Medical Center, where Rhee is chief surgeon. Funding is expected to come from the U.S. Army.
UMC Doc: ER Care May 1 Day Put Some in 'Suspended' State (by Stephanie Innes, Arizona Daily Star)
Ain’t No Science Fiction, Suspended Animation Is FDA Approved and Heading To Clinical Trials (by Peter Murray, Singularity Hub)
Suspended Animation Trials on Trauma Patients In Massachusetts (by Aaron Saenz, Singularity Hub)
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