One comment on “Defining death

  1. Well, AFAIK most of the bodily tissues will outlast brain tissue in a low-oxygen environment, so there is a technical difference between brain-death and death, just not, at the moment, a practical one.

    However, scientists have started human trials of what they’re very carefully _not_ calling “suspended animation” (because it sounds too science fictiony for the laymen, apparently, pfft!) where they replace the blood with a chilling slurry, cool the body down to about 10 degrees (don’t quote me, I don’t remember the number) and stop the heart. They they have about two hours to repair the damage that might otherwise have killed the person before they replace the blood and warm them back up again, and shock the heart if it doesn’t restart naturally on its own. Animal trials have been very successful. Cooling the cells down that far drastically reduces their metabolic processes, so their oxygen requirements are minimal, but as far as all our current definitions of human life, the patient is technically dead while they operate.

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