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Gunshot Victims To Be Part of "Suspended Animation" Trials 357

Posted by samzenpus
from the between-life-and-death dept.
New submitter Budgreen writes: "Knife-wound or gunshot victims will be cooled down and placed in suspended animation later this month. The technique involves replacing all of a patient's blood with a cold saline solution, which rapidly cools the body and stops almost all cellular activity. 'If a patient comes to us two hours after dying you can't bring them back to life. But if they're dying and you suspend them, you have a chance to bring them back after their structural problems have been fixed,' says surgeon Peter Rheeat from the University of Arizona in Tucson, who helped develop the technique. 10 gunshot and stabbing victims will take part in the trials."
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Gunshot Victims To Be Part of "Suspended Animation" Trials

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  • Space travel (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geogob (569250) on Friday March 28, 2014 @05:41AM (#46600839)

    This sounds more like science fiction than anything else to me. But if it works and the technique becomes viable to handle patient with heavy injurie - and assuming the patients can be kept suspended for long periods of time without creating further damages, I wonder if the technique could be adapted for space travel. It would solve a lot of problems related to long-duration interplanetary travel.

    The idea is not new. I just wonder if this could be the first step in this direction.

    • Re:Space travel (Score:5, Insightful)

      by prefec2 (875483) on Friday March 28, 2014 @06:14AM (#46600933)

      It is very unlikely that we will ever be able to use this technology for deep space travel. First, the distance that grate that you need thousands of years to get there. Therefore, the suspended animation must last that long without chemical decay of cellular structure. Second, all the technology in the ship must last that long. We have no technology which is usable without maintenance for that long. Therefore, self-repair ability for everything including the ship itself must be part of the mission. This looks very much, like the man who wanted to travel around the world in a straight line from Peter Bichsel. Third, all that requires energy, which has to be brought with you.

      In the end it will also not matter, because when these people reach the distant location, there will be no compatible civilization on earth left. If any at all. 10000 years ago we were sitting in caves. Reading books from medieval time in their original writing is almost impossible to most people today and that is only 500-1000 years. There is no point in deep space travel as long as we are not able to go faster than light or at least close to light speed.

      • by geogob (569250)

        I agree. This is also why I was pondering about interplanatary travel... Once we are well established on the boundry of our own solar system, I will start to speculate about deep space travel.

      • Re:Space travel (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Raumkraut (518382) on Friday March 28, 2014 @07:00AM (#46601071)

        In the end it will also not matter, because when these people reach the distant location, there will be no compatible civilization on earth left.

        People don't generally think of multi-millennium cryo-sleeper journeys as a "there and back" deal, so the state of any civilization on Earth would be pretty much moot once they wake up at the destination.
        That is, unless Earth has advanced so much that FTL Earth ships arrived at the destination before the sleepers did. In which case; "welcome to the world of tomorrow!"

        There is no point in deep space travel as long as we are not able to go faster than light or at least close to light speed.

        Perhaps no point for those staying behind, no. But for the pioneers, however long the journey takes, they may well become the first humans to explore and colonise a new planet and star system. If you honestly think that such an amazing achievement is entirely pointless, then I think you might be on the wrong website.

        • by prefec2 (875483)

          Ok. If you think in independent colonies. In that case you need above the previous requirements a really large group to go to the new destination for two reasons. First, to be able to survive in an alien environment you need technology. To understand and maintain such technology you need educated people. Knowledge is already that diverse today that a small group of 1000 people would not suffice. And you should not only send telephone disinfectors ;-) Second, to have a stable population you need genetic dive

          • You don't need to build multiple ships (except for redundancy).

            The beauty of suspended animation is that you can carry millions of people stacked up like cordwood (asleep), plus a maintenance crew (awake), plus all the machinery required, all in a much smaller space than would be required if everyone were awake the whole voyage.

            • by prefec2 (875483)

              Maintenance crew is out of the question if you want to bridge the distance to another star. Alpha Centauri is approx 30000 years away. So you need auto maintenance.

              • Re:Space travel (Score:5, Insightful)

                by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Friday March 28, 2014 @08:26AM (#46601367)

                What, you don't think that maintenance people know how to screw?

                Or for that matter, if you're carrying a million people, you can wake 100 of them every year for maintenance duties, and then each of them will have spent three years awake for the voyage.

                Note that this assumes that 30K years is correct. At 0.1% of lightspeed, the trip would be closer to 4300 years than 30,000.

                Yes, we don't know how to get to 300 km/s now. We will before we consider going to alphacent. And if we decide to go to alphacent before we can do 300 km/s, well, we'll have 25000 years to figure out how to go 300 km/s and still get to alphacent first with a ship that's going 300 km/s.

              • by dcw3 (649211)

                Not necessarily. Rotate the crews between suspension, and maintenance duties. Or, only wake a tiny crew occasionally when maintenance is necessary.

          • by MightyYar (622222)

            You could preserve genetic diversity with frozen embryos/sperm/eggs. Could probably fit a lot of "people" on a tiny ship, and they could all be pre-screened for genetic disorders (or any other trait the colonists deem appropriate).

          • To understand and maintain such technology you need educated people.

            Or advanced robotics and a few terabytes of storage for the knowledge base.

            Second, to have a stable population you need genetic diversity which also includes larger groups of people.

            Or a bank of frozen ova and sperm. Or DNA sequences stored on a flash drive. Humans have 98% of their DNA in common, so you would only need to store the 2% of diffs. If properly compressed, all the genetic diversity of the entire human population of the earth would probably fit in a few terabytes.

            Leaving you only with one problem: A large group of people to be willing to leave earth.

            There are plenty of qualified people that would leap at the chance to go.

            • by dcw3 (649211)

              Depends upon your definition of "qualified", and is it assumed that they'd never be back to Earth? Or, maybe this is an opportunity to pull all of the guys who live in their mommy's basements out, and allow them to be anti-social together.

              • Re:Space travel (Score:4, Insightful)

                by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday March 28, 2014 @09:09AM (#46601605)

                Depends upon your definition of "qualified"

                There would be millions of volunteers. If you need a thousand, you could pick the top 0.1%. I would definitely want to go. If you look at history, there has never been a problem getting people to volunteer for dangerous, one-way missions. In the 1500's, there was no shortage of colonists heading out of Europe. The Polynesians colonized every speck of land in he Pacific. The Japanese Kamikaze attacks stopped because they ran out of planes, not pilots. In the aftermath of the Challenger explosion, of the dozens of astronaut candidates, ONE dropped out.

                You have a very dim view of humanity if you think there would be a problem staffing a starship.

        • I would hope that FTL ships would go out and find the sleeper ships, instead of just waiting for them.
      • by Wootery (1087023)

        In the end it will also not matter, because when these people reach the distant location, there will be no compatible civilization on earth left. If any at all. 10000 years ago we were sitting in caves. Reading books from medieval time in their original writing is almost impossible to most people today and that is only 500-1000 years.

        You're referring to the divergent nature of the evolution of natural languages, right? The difference between the cave-man and the space-traveller is that the latter can be constantly beaming signals back to Earth.

        Even if the languages diverge, and even if the distance between Earth and the space-ship is so great that conversation is impossible, Earth will still have an excellent record of the evolution of their language.

      • It doesn't seem likely that suspended animation would be practical over those time periods, so maybe a better bet for deep space travel is to have colony ships. Don't suspend people, just have a community that lives, reproduces, dies etc.
      • In the end it will also not matter, because when these people reach the distant location, there will be no compatible civilization on earth left. There is no point in deep space travel as long as we are not able to go faster than light or at least close to light speed.

        The long-lived Howard Families of Heinlein's "Methuselah's Children" (1941) weren't looking for a way back, they were looking for a way out --- having abandoned all hope of finding a safe refuge within the Solar System.

        The historical parallels are many.

        In many ways, the experience is universal.

        In my family history, I see refugees from the religious wars that began with the Reformation, others driven into exile by the Scottish Clearances, the Irish Potato Famine...

    • Re:Space travel (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Calydor (739835) on Friday March 28, 2014 @06:17AM (#46600951)

      This sounds more like science fiction than anything else to me.

      I'm sure they said the same thing about organ transplants a hundred years ago.

    • The year is 1987, and NASA launches the last of America's deep space probes. In a freak mishap, Ranger 3 and its pilot, Captain William "Buck" Rogers, are blown out of their trajectory into an orbit which freezes his life support systems, and returns Buck Rogers to Earth, 500 years later.

  • This idea is very old, so I suppose there was a technical hurdle to overcome. What is the new development that makes this now possible? The product used is cold saline, so it can't be that.

    What's the new technique, process, idea?

    • by geogob (569250) on Friday March 28, 2014 @05:56AM (#46600877)

      Sometimes its small details that make a huge difference and allow old ideas to become reality.

      Just think about blood tranfusions. The first attemps to store blood to transfuse it at a later point all failed. A simple stabilisation agent made the procedure possible. I wouldn't expect the New Scientist to produce such details in their publications though.

      It would be interesting to see a paper from a medical journal on this topic.

      • Yes. IIRC, blood transfusions were done even before blood typing was fully understood.

        Sometimes it worked, but often the type administered was incompatible, and it took early medical practicioners a bit to sort it out.

        Some dying patients were saved during this research period though, and if that same mindset is applied to this it will undoubtedly contribute some new technology.... if it doesn't get litigated out of existence first.

    • by Joce640k (829181) on Friday March 28, 2014 @06:02AM (#46600893) Homepage

      This idea is very old, so I suppose there was a technical hurdle to overcome.

      Probably the replacing-all-their-blood-with-saline-without-them-dying part.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It claims it can be done 2 hours after they've died, at that point I think I could replace the corpses blood with marinara sauce without worrying about the health effects.

        • by guises (2423402)
          No, it claims that it can't be done two hours after they're dead.
          • NO, two hours after they're dead, it's pointless - they're dead. They're not going to get better.

            Two hours before they're dead, and they can extend that two hours for an arbitrarily long period.

            • by liamoohay (765499)
              Judging by the quotation in the summary, we can presumably infer that someone who has been dead for less than two hours is only mostly dead. Interesting....
  • I have to wonder why this hasn't been done sooner. We've known of the benefits of cooling the body before surgery, as outlined in the article. In fact, I'm pretty sure we've been doing it since the 50s. That being the case, why has it taken so long to get to this point?
  • "Victims" (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Friday March 28, 2014 @05:46AM (#46600853) Homepage

    "10 gunshot and stabbing victims will take part in the trials"

    Jesus, I can already picture a scientist charging around a shopping mall with a revolver and a switch-blade yelling "For science!"

    • "10 gunshot and stabbing victims will take part in the trials"

      So, what, until then they just have to muster on as best they can? Seems a little harsh.

    • by Guppy06 (410832)

      This is America. Finding gunshot victims isn't that hard.

  • by wisebabo (638845) on Friday March 28, 2014 @06:03AM (#46600901) Journal

    The real(?) key to long-term suspended animation (months, years) would probably involve cooling the body to sub-freezing temperatures.

    At that point, you need something to keep the ice-crystals from rupturing cells. In certain antarctic fish they have glycoproteins that do this (I think other hibernating animals use glycol or glycogen).

    Until we get nuclear fusion(?) it's clear that spaceflight even just within our solar system is going to require some pretty lengthy journeys. On the other hand, if safe long-term suspended animation is attained, there might be a whole bunch of "future" travelers who might decide to jump (one way of course) years, decades, centuries into the future.

    I think there was a science fiction book which talked about the (disastrous) effects such a technology had on society.

    • by geogob (569250)

      How do you believe that nuclear fusion would improve the speed of travel through the solar system?

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday March 28, 2014 @06:35AM (#46601003) Journal
        Radically better thrust/weight ratios than chemical fuels? Potentially better behaved than 'Project Orion' style nuclear propulsion?

        Be that as it may, I'm pretty sure that no sane IRB would sign off on using cryonics and experimental nonhuman proteins on gunshot victims just because Space is Awesome, man! The scope of the study is techniques to provide team trauma surgeon more time to stitch them back up before they bleed out, a short timeframe, and likely one where working on frozen tissue would not make matters easier.
        • It's not "frozen" - it's cold. The whole point of the technique is to minimize ice-crystal formation, which is what does a lot of the damage.

          • 'Frozen' was referring to the grandparent post's expression of disappointment that they aren't using glycoproteins and sub-freezing temperatures. My point was that ethically doing those experiments, or even getting IRB approval for those experiments, on this patient population would (and should) be essentially impossible.

            This study aims to improve outcomes for severe tissue damage. The grandparent poster wanted research into long-term hibernation. Aside from long-term work simply being riskier and more s
        • Radically better thrust/weight ratios than chemical fuels? Potentially better behaved than 'Project Orion' style nuclear propulsion?

          Thrust/weight ratios are pretty much meaningless for interplanetary travel. What you are no doubt thinking of is "Specific Impulse", which should be radically greater with fusion (or gaseous fission) drives.

          As far as Orion goes, it's likely that the first nuclear spacecraft (whether fission or fusion) will be some variation on the Orion concept - laser fusion will likely be t

      • by jabuzz (182671)

        Lots of interesting propulsion systems become viable that make current rocket technology look the equivalent of a horse and cart to a modern motor vehicle.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org]
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F... [wikipedia.org]
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org]

  • "We are suspending life, but we don't like to call it suspended animation because it sounds like science fiction," says Samuel Tisherman, a surgeon at the hospital, who is leading the trial. "So we call it emergency preservation and resuscitation."

    Are they nuts? That's exactly why they should call it suspended animation! It's awesome!

    • I can't count the number of sci-fi books where a badly injured person is put in suspension until they reach a hospital that can deal with their injuries. This really will be life imating art. In other news, Haitian witch doctors can do something similar. Real life "zombies" are not dead, but they THINK they were. Might want to look into that as well. If memory serves, puffer fish poison was the main part of their zombie drug.
      • Haitian witch doctors can do something similar. Real life "zombies" are not dead, but they THINK they were. Might want to look into that as well. If memory serves, puffer fish poison was the main part of their zombie drug.

        Yeess... can't say I've read any studies of the efficacy of real-life zombification on gunshot survival rates.

  • "Yes, he's alive, and in perfect hibernation."
    • by OzPeter (195038)

      "Yes, he's alive, and in perfect hibernation."

      Can't say the same thing about Lando's dance moves [youtube.com] though. That first number with the dancing stormtroopers and the supporting Ewoks was painful to watch. Though I'll give him props for trying it at his age and with the physical issues he has.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday March 28, 2014 @06:43AM (#46601025) Homepage

    I seem to recall some horror film plots something like that. Usually it's something along the lines of zombies, but I also seem to recall something along the lines of preserving the lives of those who are supposed to be dead and something bad happening as a result. Combine the two? Uh boy... they are supposed to be dead and when "brought back" are actually spirited by demons or something like that.

    I am extremely wary yet curious about the technique. To take a body and remove the blood and store it? I'm okay with doing that to a person officially declared dead especially if it's (1) approved by the living person in advance (2) someone extremely recently dead.

    What is it about blood which causes problems which are solved by removing it? What's more, with all that capilary action, how can they be sure they removed it all?

    • by Livius (318358)

      I think the point about replacing blood is just to get the refrigerant to all parts of the body quickly. But if there was any temporary oxygen deprivation, there could be brain damage and then you've got zombies.

    • by wjcofkc (964165)

      What is it about blood which causes problems which are solved by removing it?

      10 C or 50 F is pretty cold for blood. I would imagine it would difficult to maintain pressure that that temperature. Cooling the blood to that level may also damage cells, regardless of the fact that it's not freezing - that's me speculating. I would also venture to guess that its faster to cool the body with readily available cold saline then run the blood through a cooling machine. Also, under the conditions they are testing the

    • Or a super villain/hero origin story.
  • by joseph90 (193138) on Friday March 28, 2014 @07:48AM (#46601209) Homepage

    I had something similar done about 10 years ago. It was a bit experimental at the time and they told me I was very probably going to die during surgery and if I did not die I would prob. have brain damage and/or organ failure but without the surgery I would be dead in hours. They cooled down my body and then removed all my blood, there was no saline replacement. I was dead for about 10 minutes and apart from some problems reanimating me it worked out OK (there were some problems,I spent a month afterwards in a medically induced coma and had to have further work done repairing some damage caused during surgery). It was considered a major success at the time.

    A bit scary to be told that you have about 30 minutes to live. Last thing I remember is the anesthetist putting a line in and thinking that once he injected the anesthetic I was going to die.

  • Is it April Fool's day right now on /. ?

    Leader's haircut, suspended life, ... what's next ?

    • Facebook Purchases Minecraft for $3 Billion

      AP - Social networking giant Facebook announced plans Thursday to buy the popular multiplayer game Minecraft from its creator, Markus "Notch" Persson, for $3 Billion, its latest in a series of high-profile acquisitions. Persson will receive compensation in the form of cash, stock, and an undisclosed number of Oculus Rift headsets.

      Asked why he is selling Minecraft to Facebook following his statements that he would cease development of Minecraft for Oculus Rift when

  • How do you suppose they advertise this? "Need subjects for really cool study! $10s and all the ice cubes you can eat! Must have own gun/knife."

  • by lagomorpha2 (1376475) on Friday March 28, 2014 @09:08AM (#46601599)

    "10 gunshot and stabbing victims will take part in the trials."

    There's a double-blind trial I'm glad I didn't sign up for.

  • Pushing Ice [wikipedia.org] by Alastair Reynolds has this tech. The author points out in the afterword that this actually one of the few things that might be reality even today - apparently it's now starting to appear more widely...

    Anyway, sounds good, I wonder how far the preservation could continue. The old cryogenics scenarios start to come into mind...

  • by fygment (444210) on Friday March 28, 2014 @11:20AM (#46603001)

    In which the victim's are cut and hacked until almost dead ... then suspended ... repaired ... and the fun begins again.

    Combine this with the seriously chilling 'time dilation' drug [slashdot.org] and the future just seems a little darker.

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