Doctors in the U.S have placed humans in a state of suspended animation for the first time, as part of a trial on treating traumatic injuries that otherwise would have caused death.
According to the New Scientist, the team from the University of Maryland School of Medicine have placed at least one patient in suspended animation through a technique called emergency preservation and resuscitation (EPR).
Those who are being trialled are those who have arrived at the University of Maryland Medical Centre with an acute trauma and have had cardiac arrest. After cardiac arrest, their heart has stopped and will have lost significant amounts of blood.
ERP requires rapidly cooling the person to between 10 to 15°C by replacing blood with ice-cold saline. Their brain activity stops completely and the surgeons have two hours to operate on the persons injuries before they warmed up and their heart is restarted.
The FDA have approved a trial of 20 patients, and have waived the need to get patient consent as their injuries are likely to survive. The local community have been informed through discussions and adverts in newspapers indicating where they can go to opt-out.
“I want to make clear that we’re not trying to send people off to Saturn,” member of the team Samuel Tisherman told the New Scientists. “We’re trying to buy ourselves more time to save lives.”
The trial is expected to run until the end of the year with results expected in late 2020.