Minutes after a heartbeat stops, a massive series of disastrous events triggered by lack of blood flow begins to destroy a body’s cells and organs.
This chain of events had been thought to be inevitable and irreversible. Now, a new animal study shows that heart death mustn’t necessarily spell a quick end to the rest of the body.
The researchers restored blood circulation and other cellular functions in the bodies of pigs that had been dead for a full hour, using a new drug cocktail designed to reverse the various catastrophic effects that come with the loss of blood flow.
“Specifically, we restored some functions of cells across multiple vital organs that should have been dead without our intervention,” said senior researcher Dr. Nenad Sestan, a professor of neuroscience at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. “These cells are functioning hours after they should not be, and what this tells us is that the demise of cells can be halted and their functionality restored in multiple vital organs, even one hour after death.”
Still, it’s not quite raising the dead.