Living after death or revival has been subject to countless Hollywood big pictures, but what if it is possible in the long run? Is there a possible way to preserve organs after death? A new Yale study uncovers that a permanent failure in our body does not occur instantly after death. Researchers discovered that a newfound technology can restore circulation in the body. The research also presents that death is a long process with some restorable cellular functions.
The OrganEx system is a more advanced version of the previous BrainEx system, which then targeted one organ specifically. In the journal published in Nature, the study showed that dead pigs connected to the OrganEx system were able to maintain some of their bodily functions in certain organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys. Although it is not clinically relevant yet for humans, the OrganEx system, which preserved the circulation in the body, also provided anticoagulants that prevented clogging the vessels of the dead pig used in the research. The researchers also found that OrganEx pigs had production of albumin in the liver, proving that the treatment kick-started metabolism in the organ. However, scientists are still not sure what the technology provides for the animal body as the heart had not completely restarted with the help of the system. Regardless, it was found that certain genes that are important for cell function and repair were more active compared to subjects with ECMO (Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine or with no assistance. This shows that the OrganEx technology might be able to sustain cellular life even after death.
Some tissues in the brain of the pig in the study had also been preserved, but there is no highlight of the pig regaining consciousness, yet. With the question of consciousness, the ethics of this study and further progress is also a rising concern. Although the latest study was approved by Yale’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, it was noted that there should be careful insight concerning studies with the brain and consciousness of the subject. The OrganEx subjects also jerked after the programmed cardiac arrest which raised the question of pigs being conscious during the experiment. But the temperature in the environment was lower than normal body temperature and neuronal blockers were used. Still, this newly found technology rears a possibility of regaining consciousness after death.
Researchers express that the effects of this study can be profound in human longevity if it is possible to replicate the OrganEx treatment with humans. It could be a greater alternative to ECMO which is used to preserve the body and the use of the OrganEx system, or an advanced version of the system can result in a greater chance of healthy organ transplants. ECMO is normally used to resuscitate a person after a heart attack or preserve organs after that, but most of the time, the machine might not be enough to maintain the organs in a healthy way because of the intensity of the injuries. While ECMO only slows death, OrganEx might be able to repair some cellular architecture and repair certain tissues. The use of OrganEx can change lives and provide new hope for all individuals in the emergency room.
It might be early to talk about life after death but the new OrganEx certainly shows a future in making. What we can learn from this is that death is not as sudden as we have thought, it is a process, and the study will change the way we look at critical-care processes forever.
Credits: Yale News. 3 Aug. 2022. Yale News, news.yale.edu/2022/08/03/
20Public_8-6-2022. Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.