Can it really be this easy? BBC Future explores a new way to bring back dead – or at least almost dead – humans to life:
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A radical procedure that involves replacing a patient’s blood with cold salt water could retrieve people from the brink of death, says David Robson.
“When you are at 10C, with no brain activity, no heartbeat, no blood – everyone would agree that you’re dead,” says Peter Rhee at the University of Arizona, Tucson. “But we can still bring you back.”
Rhee isn’t exaggerating. With Samuel Tisherman, at the University of Maryland, College Park, he has shown that it’s possible to keep bodies in ‘suspended animation’ for hours at a time. The procedure, so far tested on animals, is about as radical as any medical procedure comes: it involves draining the body of its blood and cooling it more than 20C below normal body temperature.
Once the injury is fixed, blood is pumped once again through the veins, and the body is slowly warmed back up.