Researchers said in a new study they were able to restore circulation and cellular activity in the dead vital organs of pigs, something originally thought impossible. File Photo by Ramboldheiner/Pixabay
Aug. 3 (UPI) — Researchers said in a new study they were able to restore circulation and cellular activity in the dead vital organs of pigs, something originally thought was impossible, which raises bioethical questions about future work.
The research, published in the scientific journal Nature on Wednesday, cuts against current medical knowledge that says cardiac death, when blood circulation and oxygenation end, is irreversible.
Researchers connected pigs that had been dead for one hour to a new system that pumped a blood substitute throughout the animals’ bodies. The solution slowed the decomposition of the bodies and quickly restored some organ function, such as heart contraction and activity in the liver and kidney.
Researchers, though, said brain activity did not return and the animals never regained consciousness.
Dr. Nenad Sestan, professor of neuroscience, comparative medicine, genetics and psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, said he was stunned by its ability to revive cells.
“We did not know what to expect,” said Dr. David Andrijevic, also a neuroscientist at Yale and one the authors of the study, according to the New York Times. “Everything we restored was incredible to us.”
The study is a follow-up of experiments from 2019 at Yale in which researchers revived the disembodied brain of pigs four hours after the animals died.
New York University bioethicist Arthur Caplan said the results of the study, while far from producing anything conclusive, crack the door open for people to question when does death being and question the idea of organ donations.
“People tend to focus on brain death, but there’s much consensus on when cardiac death occurs,” Caplan said, “This paper brings that home in an important way.”