Human Trials Set for Suspended Animation: Could Severe Hypothermia Save Your Life?

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Credit: John Lamb/Getty Images

When you hear “suspended animation,” you may think of Ted Williams, or simply dismiss whoever’s talking. But that’s about to change, as scientists are moving away from freezing the dead, and focusing on the dying.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved human trials of a technique developed by Dr. Peter Rhee that’s meant to save the lives of the critically injured by freezing them, thus slowing down the dying process while doctors go to work.

Rhee wants to induce severe hypothermia by injecting a cold fluid into a dying person. Their body temperature would drop to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but their metabolism would also slow drastically- staving off death.

Rhee has been experimenting on pigs for several decades, and has found that the animals do not suffer any side effects when warmed up again. He can keep a person in suspended animation for up to 90 minutes, enough time to perform life saving surgery.

Of course, the drastic course would only be used in extreme circumstances. But it may be the key to saving lives.

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