A historical feat calls into question everything we know about death. Published this Wednesday, August 3 in the magazine Nature, a study reveals that scientists at Yale University were able to restore oxygen circulation and cellular activity in the vital organs of pigs one hour after they died. (source 1)
“Not all cells die immediately, there is a more prolonged series of events”explains David Andrijevic, co-lead author of the study. “It’s a process in which you can intervene, stop, and restore some cellular function.”
In order to verify this claim, his team began by inducing heart attacks in anesthetized pigs. The researchers then usedOrganExan infusion system that pumped a blood substitute in the body of animals. This experimental fluid notably contained compounds capable of recirculating oxygen, promoting cellular health and suppressing inflammation.
Cells restored several hours after death
Six hours later, scientists found that the blood had started to circulate again and many cells had resumed their activity, including in vital organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys. Some organic functions had been restored. For example, researchers have found evidence of electrical activity inthe heart, which had retained the ability to contract.
“We were also able to restore circulation throughout the body, which amazed us”, Nenad Sestan said in a press release. (source 2)
While scientists haven’t been able to resuscitate the pigs, they hope such findings could help prolong the health of human organs during surgery and increase the availability of donor organs.