Can death be reversed? Science thinks so

3 mins
04 Aug 2022
Can death be reversed? Science thinks so

One serious breakthrough!

image Christopher Carson on Unsplash

words Megan Wallace

Turns out, science is pretty wild. Whether it’s discovering new evidence to back up the Loch Ness Monster legend, uncovering never-before-seen images of the galaxy or discovering that cows can cure anxiety, researchers are always coming out with new information to transform the way we live and interact with the world.

The most recent breakthrough? Well, it looks like scientists at Yale University could have found a way around one of life’s biggest conundrums: death itself. Yep, in a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature on 3 August, researchers detailed a process whereby the organs of dead pigs could once more show signs of life.

But how does that even work? Well, not to get too morbid here, but when you die and your heart stops beating and the lack of blood flow, oxygen and nutrients begins a process that destroys your cells and organs. However, there is seemingly an alternative: the Yale scientists attached pigs who had been dead for an hour to a machine that pumped nutrients throughout their bodies and saw surprisingly positive results. While full functionality was not restored, after six hours some cell damage in kidneys, livers and lungs were reversed and these organs demonstrated signs of self-repair. The pigs' hearts also began to emit electrical activity once more.

While, sadly, resurrection on demand isn’t yet on the cards, the findings are pretty exciting for the future of organ transplants. If organ damage can be reversed in this way, it means that organs may be in a better state during surgery and that medical professionals can take more time to harvest organs. All this means that more lives could potentially be saved as more people may have the opportunity to benefit from transplants — news which is definitely worth celebrating.

“This new system showed that not only can we slow down cellular damage, but that we can actually activate processes at the genetic level for cellular repair,” explains Brendan Parent, an Assistant Professor of Bioethics at New York University. Well he wasn’t involved in the study, Parent wrote a commentary to go alongside it — and pointed to some potential ethical and existential questions which this research may raise in future. “This might force us to reconsider what we decide is ‘dead.’”

Some serious food for thought here — with advances in science and technology, who knows what life after death may look like in future?

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