Scientists Revived Cells in Pigs’ Organs an Hour After They Died
A study published in Nature on Wednesday indicates a groundbreaking discovery by a team of scientists who were observing a group of dead pigs in the lab.
Is it possible to come back from the dead? Researchers at Yale are working on finding a pathway to one of science’s oldest questions.
A study published in Nature on Wednesday indicates a groundbreaking discovery by a team of scientists who were observing a group of dead pigs in the lab. One hour had passed since the animals had died; they had no blood circulation, no heartbeats and flat brain waves.
However, after pumping a custom-made ‘OrganEx’ solution into the dead pigs’ bodies— via a device that is similar to a heart-lung machine— scientists were able to revive dead cells. As the solution circulated further into the pigs’ veins and arteries, their hearts began to beat. Even further, cells in key organs like the liver, brain and kidney also began to exhibit vital signs again.
Although Yale bioethics have stated that the technology and solution used to revive the pigs cells is still “very far away from use in humans”, researchers believe the findings could have future implications for expanding the availability of organ donations, by allowing medical personnel to harvest vital organs for longer after a person’s death and still keep them viable for transplantation.
The study’s findings, while thrilling, also pose weighty questions for bioethicists— namely, can the condition of death, as humans have come to know it, truly be reversed in some fashion? “By the accepted medical and legal definition of death, these pigs were dead,” said Brendan Parent, a lawyer and ethicist with NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine, via the NYT, adding: “A critical question is: What function and what kind of function would change things?”