Researchers at Yale University, using a technology called OrganEx, revived some pig organs an hour after the animals were killed. Experts said the findings were “truly remarkable” and “incredibly significant”. “We can restore some functions of cells, across multiple vital organs, that should have been dead,” said Prof Nenad Sestan. A synthetic blood to carry oxygen around the body, a cocktail of 13 compounds to interrupt the apoptosis (death of cells) and a device to rhythmically pump the fluid around the body were used. There was restoration of electrical activity in the heart, and some heart muscle cells were able to contract but the organs were not functioning at the same level as before death. There was some evidence of repair in the brain but without brainwaves or electrical activity.
The initial aim is to preserve transplant organs for longer, after this technique will be used in humans. “I think the technology has a great deal of promise for our ability to preserve organs after they’re removed from a donor,” said Dr Stephen Latham, the director of Yale’s interdisciplinary centre for bioethics. The actual results do not indicate that OrganEx restored life to either the pigs or their organs. There is however a hope that in the future OrganEx could be used to bring people back to life whose hearts stop as a result of drowning or experiencing a heart attack. More research must be conducted.