Scientists at Yale University shared the results of an experiment Wednesday that involved pumping a custom chemical solution into dead pigs in order to revive their organs.
The researchers took pigs that had been dead for one hour and ran the chemical solution through their bodies, resulting in the pigs’ hearts beating again and cells in other organs coming back to life. The breakthrough could prove critical in alleviating shortages of organs available for transplants.
The pigs had been lying dead in the lab for an hour — no blood circulating, their hearts still, their brain waves flat. When researchers injected a solution called OrganEx into their bodies, their hearts beat and organ cells started to function again. https://t.co/CZi3q1xEQV
— NYT Science (@NYTScience) August 3, 2022
The pigs treated with the solution, OrganEx, didn’t stiffen like dead pigs typically do. A control group of pigs had blood pumped through their bodies instead, which caused them to develop swollen and damaged organs, as well as purple spots where blood pooled under the skin, and stiffen.
The group started four years ago by trying to revive brain function alone. They infused BrainEx into pig brains that had been dead for four hours, and then asked if they might be able to do the same with an entire body.
While the dead cells resumed activity, there was no indication of organized brain activity in the animals. And Dr. Stephen Latham, who was a part of the research team, told The New York Times that the technology is far away from being ready for use in human organs. (RELATED: NYT, Washington Post Slammed For Debating Whether Criminals Should Receive Healthcare)
Scientists told the NYT that the success of OrganEx could change the way the medical field defines death. If organs can still function much longer after blood flow and brain activity cease than previously believed, they said, then the definition of death must be changed to allow far more time before a pronouncement is made.