X-Message-Number: 812
Date: 06 May 92 22:23:39 EDT
From: Bob Smart <>

The Los Angeles Times of Thursday, 30 Apr 1992 ran an article by staff
medical writer Robert Steinbrook that might be of interest to CryoNet
readers.  It's pretty long, but I'll abstract it here:
Loma Linda University Medical Center surgeons have taken lamb and goat
hearts which were "lifeless within dead animals for as long as 45 minutes,"
implanted them into other animals, and reactivated the transplanted organs.
According to research team leader Dr. Steven R. Gundry, the process, which
includes various drugs and "other manipulations," has been used to
"reanimate" and transplant over 20 animal hearts.
The scientists characterized this work as "preliminary," but they believe
further progress could make the process usable in humans, with one benefit
being that organs which are now considered unsuitable for transplantation
because they've been "dead" too long could some day be recovered and reused.
The article also mentions the legal and ethical problems that such a
development could spark, and suggests that legal definitions of "death,"
which frequently make mention of "irreversible" heart stoppage, may no
longer be adequate when "reversibility" becomes a more fluid state.  The
article also notes what it calls a "fundamental conflict of interest between
emergency room physicians who try to save lives and transplant surgeons who
try to obtain the heart or other organs for use in another patient."  Even
Dr. Gundry drew a parallel between possible implications of his research and
the film "Coma," in which patients are killed in operating rooms so that
their organs may be harvested.
A key aspect of Gundry's process lies in the use of "the right cocktail" of
medications to preserve heart tissue and restore normal blood flow.  For
years, physicians have held that heart tissue suffers irreversible damage
after 15 minutes or so of oxygen deprivation at normal temperatures, but
Gundry's "cocktail" includes drugs to break up arterial clots, prevent heart
artery spasms, and ward off a cataclysmic, irreversible heart contraction
sometimes caused by abnormally high calcium concentrations.  The reanimation
process is a gradual one, taking around an hour to reattain normal blood
The first journal-published report of this research will appear in the May
issue of the Annals of Thoracic Surgery, and describes the team's experience
with four juvenile lamb hearts.  The anesthetized lambs were allowed to
bleed to death (to simulate the typical mode of death for most human organ
donors, who are usually victims of auto crashes or other traumatic injury),
and their hearts were left in place for 30 minutes (a time chosen to
simulate the delay involved in obtaining permission from next of kin to use
organs for transplant).  After this 30-minute delay, the lamb hearts were
filled with "a cold, preservative solution," removed from their original
bodies, and packed away in iced saltwater for another 90 minutes.  After
this total two-hour delay, the hearts were transplanted into other lambs,
where all four transplanted hearts resumed normal function.  Similar
experiments have left the dead hearts in the original bodies for up to 45
minutes, and Gundry says that so far, he "does not know how long is 'too
long' before irreversible cell death occurs."

[ Could this work be applied toward improved suspension protocols? - KQB ]

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=812