Newsweek: Doctors change the way they think about death

Very interesting article.

Cue the inevitable thread derail into a discussion of zombies … and probably ninja pirates too.

bad ass

Wow. I recently read Micheal Crichton’s “Five Patients”, which is a non-fiction book detailing an ER room in 1969. There are things that they were doing even then that seem barbaric now.

I can’t wait for the future. This is fascinating stuff, and I am glad that there are smart people out there working this stuff.

Guys, do you have any idea how pissed Jesus is going to be when he’s just gotten through introductions with someone and they get yanked back to Earth?

Man, I love science.

Oh my… Thats … I can’t explain it. As someone who gave cpr to his day almost 5 years ago and he didn’t make it, this is kind of freaky to read I could of did more harm than good. Not that this technologly back then could of helped.

Nobody is suggesting that CPR does more harm than good. The question is how to minimize the additional damage that occurs when perfusion is restored.


I wonder what this means for Lazarus?

The article says that CPR restores the oxygen in such a way that maximum cell damage occurs. On the other hand, when a slow and cell-preserving resuscitation method is unavailable the alternative would be death, so…

Anyway, interesting article but the consequences aren’t perhaps that far-reaching after all. When the heart fails there’s usually a reason, and that reason will either have done more damage already (as in an accident) or will soon cause another heart failure (clogged arteries, old age).

Seems like this could have some very far reaching applications not just in saving lives in cardiac arrest situations but in surgical situations where a patient needs to “die” to facilitate ideal operating conditions. If they can literally stop someones heart for over and hour, repair whatever needs repairing without worrying about the effects, then revive the patients heart without cell damage after completion it could lead to all new ways of fixing various conditions and transplanting organs. Cool stuff!

There has actually been some work on just this. Maybe by the guy mentioned in the article or something else. They do these crazy things where they lower the temperature of dogs and drain all of their blood, do surgery on them, and then warm them up and put the blood back. Apparently the dogs can stay in a bloodless chilled state for a long time (12 hours maybe?) without any apparent ill effects.

I’m definitely going to my lawyer and getting a restraining order that will make Chris Nahr stay at a mininum of a thousand yards from any crash cart to be used on me in the future.


“No, don’t. Why bother? Damage’s done, and it borders on irresponsible to waste the electricity.”

“Huh, good point. Fuck it, let’s go golfing.”

Reminds me of that house episode where they had to get rid of an infection in a corpse.

By the way, didn’t the just recently change CPR? I still get the Royal Lifesaving Society magazine, and I thought I had read that CPR is now just about the chest compressions - that you shouldn’t stop for breaths after the first two.

I’ve little knowledge in the medical field, but my understanding is that the AIDS virus can not survive without oxygen. That being the case, could this method used along side draining their blood be a “fix” for AIDS?

That is just amazing.

Yeah they did. My wife is a CPR instructor, and she was telling me about the changes. Basically the old way was doing a lot of damage, so they changed the techniques to make it more “living friendly”. You still do assisted breathing, but now they also teach you to find an AED and use that instead if you can.

Won’t somebody think of the zombies?!

The real issue here is going to be insurance, death taxes, and estate issues, when the definition of dead changes.

For instance, if I end up being cryogenically stored via advanced versions of these methods, am I dead? What happens when I get brought back later?

Also, the last paragraph of that thing is remeniscent of “Operation Frost Angel” in Alastair Reynolds’ Pushing Ice. Which, he claims, is based on sound scientific theory, so maybe it’s actually related. Very cool.

The article refers to the damage that occurs during ACLS, which restarts the heart via electricity, drugs, etc.

Basic CPR does not usually restart the heart. In fact, it will rarely save someone’s life by itself. The purpose of CPR is to provide minimal circulation via external compression until a defibrillator (or a more advanced alternative) is available. CPR is a stopgap measure.

It’s important to note that CPR is intended to maintain blood flow to the brain, whereas the article describes reperfusion damage to the heart (even during their slow-reperfusion experiment, they use a bypass device to avoid reducing brain circulation). Circulation to the heart is often stopped intentionally during cardiac surgery. When circulation to the brain is stopped intentionally, malpractice lawsuits happen. Unlike doctors with bypass machines, CPR providers do not get to decide where the blood goes.

And the modern definition of “death” refers to the brain, not the heart. Lawyers and insurance salesmen don’t need to worry for now.