When health freezes over

From the May 2004 Wired, Wil McCarthy writes on the latest in cryonics:

"Right now, we can easily bring animals back from two hours of absolute clinical death," says Hal Sternberg, BioTime's VP of research. "No pulse, no respiration, no measurable brain activity."

The astounding thing is that the animals show no sign of physical or neurological damage. Over a period of weeks, the animal returns to its cute and cuddly self.

The FDA hasn't approved BioTime's procedure for humans yet, but with Hextend already on the market as a blood-volume replacement, Sternberg expects the green light in as little as three years. And when that happens, it will not only improve surgical safety, but also make way for longer procedures that no surgeon would dare attempt at room temperature, such as separating adult conjoined twins fused at the head.

BioTime has other cool stuff in the pipeline, including HetaFreeze, a solution called a cryoprotectant. This substance makes it possible to freeze tissue grafts - BioTime has tested it with skin and hair - without disrupting their cellular structure. It may allow whole organs, such as hearts, and even intact (but brain-dead) organ donors to survive partial freezing.

I got into a debate or two after this post in which I described participants in modern cryonics as "selfish and misguided." I still believe that's true, but it seems the day might come when cryonics is medically prudent.

(tip of the hat to Transterrestrial's Andrew Case).