Thursday, May 29, 2014

UA Doc's Work Changes the Definition of "Dead"

Posted By on Thu, May 29, 2014 at 1:00 PM

New Scientist takes a look at the work of UA trauma doc Peter Rhee and his colleagues, who is exploring a new technique of saving lives by putting people in a form of suspended animation.

Rhee, who was one of the trauma docs on duty during the 2011 shooting rampage at Gabby Giffords' Congress on Your Corner, has been testing the concept since 2000:

The technique was first demonstrated in pigs in 2000 by Rhee and his colleagues. The animals were sedated and a massive haemorrhage induced, to mimic the effect of multiple gunshot wounds. Their blood was drained and replaced by either a cold potassium or saline solution, rapidly cooling the body to around 10 °C. After the injuries were treated, the animals were gradually warmed up as the solution was replaced with blood.
Vital signs

The pig's heart usually started beating again by itself, although some pigs needed a jump-start. There was no effect on physical or cognitive function.

"After we did those experiments, the definition of 'dead' changed," says Rhee. "Every day at work I declare people dead. They have no signs of life, no heartbeat, no brain activity. I sign a piece of paper knowing in my heart that they are not actually dead. I could, right then and there, suspend them. But I have to put them in a body bag. It's frustrating to know there's a solution."

New Scientist reports that the process will be tested in Pittsburgh:

Neither dead or alive, knife-wound or gunshot victims will be cooled down and placed in suspended animation later this month, as a groundbreaking emergency technique is tested out for the first time.

Surgeons are now on call at the UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to perform the operation, which will buy doctors time to fix injuries that would otherwise be lethal.

"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."

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Jim Nintzel

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
Meditation and Buddhist study

Meditation and Buddhist study @ Sky Island Zen

Tuesdays, Saturdays

All of today's events | Staff Picks

Staff Pick

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

Joan Crawford dukes it out with her on and off-screen rival Bette Davis in this hilarious, disturbing,… More

@ Loft Cinema Fri., June 30, 10-11:45 p.m. and Sat., July 1, 10-11:45 p.m. 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.

» More Picks

Submit an Event Listing

Popular Content

  1. The Weekly List: 15 Things To Do In Tucson In The Next Week (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  2. Trial Over TUSD's Mexican American Studies to Begin in Tucson June 26 (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  3. Look At All These Great Movies Coming Up This Week! (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  4. 'Repeal and Replace' Cuts Schools' Medicaid Funding (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  5. Grand Glazed Opening (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)

© 2017 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation