When I first heard of it, I admit I thought it was a new digital animation trick. Cool! You can…make someone look like they’re flying…? No. Not really.
But sort of. Suspended animation is a medical technique that involves cooling your body down so much that your life is put on hold while surgeons try to fix whatever is wrong with you. Doctors drop your body temperature to below 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit), putting you into a hypothermic state.
This slows everything down inside, including the rate at which your cells are working, your metabolism, how much oxygen you need, etc. As some say, it’s like going into “standby” mode, whereby everything is put in slo-mo. This is great for emergency situations because it buys you and the doctors time.
Suspended animation is still in the trial stage with humans, and doctors at the University of Maryland School of Medicine did it for the first time earlier this November. It could be key in saving lives when someone has a potentially fatal gunshot or stab wound. Anything with extreme trauma and lots of blood loss.
How do we know it could work? So far, people have been shown to survive suspended animation, but only by accident.
A man from Japan once survived in cold weather for more than 3 weeks in 2006, for example, without any food or water by falling into what seemed to be a hibernation state in the middle of a field. Suspended animation is similar, and researchers are hopeful that it presents a new frontier for treatment in medicine.
Looks like we’re all just mammals after all.