The 1960's was the decade of the first heart transplant, the release of the first birth control pill and cryogenics. Based on medical advancements, Robert Ettinger proposed the bold idea that death was possibly just a disease. He theorized that by freezing someone at the precise moment of clinical death, we could later revive them. This was the birth of cryogenics. Turns out that freezing people is a bit harder than it sounds. 40 years after the birth of cryogenics, freezing people for indefinite periods of time is just as implausible, but freezing them for a few hours to postpone death is becoming a very likely reality. Suspended Animation, otherwise called Emergency Preservation and Resuscitation, or EPR is a medical procedure which, according to a March 26, 2014 report in New Scientist can "preserve human lives by suspending them between life and death." In order to understand EPR, let's first delve into some background information, then examine future trials and applications, and finally explore some implications to medical research that has the potential to save thousands of lives every year.
For many years doctors have found it fascinating that they could still revive people up to 30 minutes after they "drowned" in freezing water. To understand how, we must first study how hypothermia affects the body, before second, exploring how we can use this to our advantage. First, hypothermia changes your body on a physical and chemical level. At normal temperature cells in the body require a constant supply of oxygen. Oxygen is delivered via your bloodstream, which is why your heart is so crucial. If your heart is not pumping blood, then your brain only has enough oxygen to survive for 5 minutes before it suffers irrevocable damage. When you go into hypothermic shock, your body increases cardiac and oxygen demand to war m itself back up. This tries to restart any organs that have shut down.