As part of the study, doctors at Maryland Medical University placed the patient in a so-called "artificial death" for the first time. As New Scientist exclusively reports, a team led by Professor Samuel Tisherman with the help of the so-called "Emergency Conservation and Resuscitation" (EPR, such as: emergency maintenance and resuscitation), an emergency patient swapped all blood for ice-cold saline. In addition, his body cooled to about ten to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Thus, no heartbeat, breathing, and almost no brain activity could be detected. Thereafter, the patient was operated on and brought back to life. Tisherman reported it at a symposium in New York last Monday.
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The goal of the EPR is to treat people with life-threatening injuries, such as stab wounds or gunshot wounds, in the future. The problem with such injuries is that there is usually not enough time for emergency medical care by today's methods. The chances of survival are so low, they are only five percent. However, if the patient is dead, doctors are given about two hours of extra time to care for their wounds.
Tisherman told New Scientist the process felt "a little surreal." Furthermore, he did not want to find out how many times EPR had already been used and how many people survived. However, there are prerequisites for it to be used. Thus, potential patients would have to suffer cardiac arrest and lose serious injury in addition to at least half of the blood.
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Tisherman hopes to release reliable study results by the end of next year. He wants to compare a total of 20 emergencies: ten were then treated with EPR, ten comparable cases were not. For example, the team of experts who can perform the procedure was not fully present.
Idea of the process: At 37 degrees Celsius, normal body temperature, human cells need a constant supply of oxygen to produce energy. But when there is no circulating blood or very little, as in severe injuries, there is no more oxygen. Without oxygen, the brain can survive for only a few minutes without sustaining irreversible damage. Body cooling during EPR dramatically shuts down or even stops all chemical processes in the body. As a result, they no longer need oxygen.
The clinical trial has already been approved by the competent authority. With the following rationale, Tisherman's doctors do not even need a statement of consent: if patients with such serious injuries are admitted, they are most likely to die. So there is no alternative treatment. However, in recent weeks and months, Tisherman has attended public information sessions about his study in the Baltimore area and has been educated about EPR. He also advertised in the newspaper that anyone could compete online and so object to the EPR.
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In animal experiments, pigs were repeatedly successfully treated with EPR. For up to three hours, they could be put to death, operated on, then resuscitated. Tisherman says, "We felt it was time to put the treatment on people. We are learning so much now. If we can prove it works, we can use technology to save lives everywhere that would otherwise die."
But some unresolved questions must be answered. For example: how long can people cool down? A central problem is damage at the cellular level, which occurs when the body is reheated. These are the result of chemical reactions – the more violent the longer the oxygen supply is suppressed. Although it is possible to administer medication, Tisherman says, "but we have not yet determined all the causes that cause the damage."