Ever see the movie, Pet Semetery? Scientists have found a way to bring Bowser back to life without the Indian burial ground and creepy old man neighbors. And they say that dogs aren’t as cranky as you might expect after coming back from the dead.
Three hours after clinical death, researchers at Pitt's Safar Center for Resuscitation Research were able bring dogs back to life using a new technique they hope to extend humans within a year.
The dogs were clinically dead, meaning their hearts had stopped and brain activity had ended. They were dead, really dead, all the way dead.
Dr. Patrick Kochanek, the center’s director, explained that the procedure involved draining all the blood from the dogs and replacing it with a nearly ice-cold saline solution. The solution will throw the body into a state of hypothermia that suspends breathing, heartbeat, and brain activity, rendering the subject officially dead.
A few hours later, fresh blood was reintroduced to the canine bodies while oxygen was administered and defibrillators shocked the heart back to life. The dogs showed no signs of physical or mental damage as a result of their resurrections. The results have not yet been published.
It didn’t take long for British news sources like The Register to get a hold of the news and dub it an experiment involving “zombie dogs.” But according to the Pittsburg Tribune-Review, Dr. Kochanek regrets the moniker, which has spread like wildfire across the Internet.
"It's so unfair and so bizarre," Kochanek said. "Somebody must have thought the title 'zombie dog' would be a catchy phrase. Obviously they were right, but obviously that is the farthest thing from what we are doing, which is trying to save lives."
The intent of the research is born of a concept from the late Dr. Peter Safar, the inventor of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and founder of the center that bears his name.
He suggested that flushing out the circulatory system and replacing blood with the saline solution could buy some extra time while transporting trauma victims. The icy temperatures would preserve tissues and organs long enough for medical treatment to arrive.
"The idea is to preserve the victim for just a little while in this state called suspended animation so the surgeons can locate bleeding sites and make the necessary repairs," Kochanek said.
The procedure, if perfected, could be used to save the life of those suffering from rapid blood loss, buying them time to be transported. It is expected to be very helpful on the battlefield and at car accident scenes where rapid blood loss is prevalent.
About 50,000 Americans die annually from these types of injuries, which are the leading cause of death among troops in combat.