Monday, April 28, 2014

This Radical Treatment Pushes Victims to the Brink of Death in Order to Save Their Lives


Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center will soon replace the blood of trauma patients with cold saline solution to slow down the cell's metabolism to where there's no signs of brain activity, nor pulse.

Researchers are putting trauma patients in a state between life and death with a technique known in movies as "suspended animation"
In sci-fi films like "Avatar," the futuristic notion of suspended animation is often portrayed by turning humans into living icicles.

But in reality, sustaining someone in a state between life and death hasn't been possible. Until now.

In an effort to save lives, surgeons at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center will soon attempt the scenario for a select few critically injured patients, cooling their bodies down until there are no signs of brain activity nor pulse. The technique gives surgeons more time to repair otherwise fatal injuries before returning the patients' bodies to a normal temperature—bringing them, so to speak, "back to life."

While sci-fi writers have their own term for the phenomenon,  David King, a surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital who helped develop the groundbreaking method, prefers the term “emergency preservation.”

“We're not stopping all internal body processes, but we're slowing them down dramatically," King says.

Technically, the patients will still be alive, though just barely.

Despite the countless medical advances of our time, blood loss remains one of the biggest challenges doctors face, responsible for 40 percent of hospital deaths that occur in any given day, according to the nonprofit National Trauma Institute. Victims of gunshot wounds, stabbings and automobile accidents die most often not from the severity of their injuries, but from rapid blood loss; likewise, the leading cause of death for soldiers in combat is massive blood loss within the first five to 20 minutes of injury.  

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