Suspended animation

Suspended animation is the inducement of a temporary cessation or decay of main body functions, including the brain, to a hypometabolic state in order to try to preserve its mental and physiological capabilities.[1][2]

As a theoretical concept, it has been included in a wide range of fiction books and films but has not been implemented as a medical procedure for either short or extended time.[3]

Intrahospital CPR
CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) being performed on a trauma patient in a hospital of Maracay, Venezuela. Like CPR, suspended animation could delay the onset of cell death (necrosis) in seriously injured or ill patients, providing them with more time to receive definitive medical treatment.

Basic principles

Bonner zoologische Monographien (1975) (20367841916)
Hazel-mouse, (Muscardinus avellanarius) preparing for hibernation, gaining nearly double its body weight. Bonn, Zoological Research Institute and Museum.

Suspended animation has been understood as the slowing or stopping of life processes by exogenous or endogenous means without terminating life itself.[4] Breathing, heartbeat and other involuntary functions may still occur, but they can only be detected by artificial means.[5] For this reason, this procedure has been associated with a lethargic state in nature when animals or plants appear, over a period, to be dead but then can wake up or prevail without suffering any harm. This has been termed in different contexts hibernation, dormancy or anabiosis (this last in some aquatic invertebrates and plants in scarcity conditions).

This condition of apparent death or interruption of vital signs may be similar to a medical interpretation of suspended animation. It is only possible to recover signs of life if the brain and other vital organs suffer no cell deterioration, necrosis or molecular death principally caused by oxygen deprivation or excess temperature (especially high temperature).[6]

Some examples of people that have returned from this apparent interruption of life lasting over half an hour, two hours, eight hours or more while adhering to these specific conditions for oxygen and temperature have been reported and analysed in depth, but these cases are not considered scientifically valid. The brain begins to die after five minutes without oxygen; nervous tissues die intermediately when a "somatic death" occurs while muscles die over one to two hours following this last condition.[7]

It has been possible to obtain a successful resuscitation and recover life in some instances, including after anaesthesia, heat stroke, electrocution, narcotic poisoning, heart attack or cardiac arrest, shock, newborn infants, cerebral concussion, cholera, and voluntarily as in yogis.

Supposedly, in suspended animation, a person technically would not die, as long as he or she were able to preserve the minimum conditions in an environment extremely close to death and return to a normal living state. An example of such a case is Anna Bågenholm, a Swedish radiologist who allegedly survived 40 minutes under ice in a frozen lake in a state of cardiac arrest and survived with no brain damage in 1999.[8]

Other cases of hypothermia where people survived without damage are:

  • John Smith, a 14-year-old boy who survived 15 minutes under ice in a frozen lake before paramedics arrived to pull him onto dry land and saved him.[9]
  • Mitsutaka Uchikoshi, a Japanese man who survived the cold for 24 days in 2006 without food or water when he fell into a state similar to hibernation[10]
  • Paulie Hynek, who, at age two, survived several hours of hypothermia-induced cardiac arrest and whose body temperature reached 64 °F (18 °C)[11]
  • Erika Nordby, a toddler who in 2001 was revived after two hours without apparent heartbeat with a body temperature of about 61 °F (16 °C)[12]

Human hibernation

American toad - Bufo americanus - 3
American toad (Bufo americanus) is an amphibian that can hibernate in winter.

Since the 1970s, induced hypothermia has been performed for some open-heart surgeries as an alternative to heart-lung machines. Hypothermia, however, provides only a limited amount of time in which to operate and there is a risk of tissue and brain damage for prolonged periods.

There are many research projects currently investigating how to achieve "induced hibernation" in humans.[13][14] This ability to hibernate humans would be useful for a number of reasons, such as saving the lives of seriously ill or injured people by temporarily putting them in a state of hibernation until treatment can be given.

The primary focus of research for human hibernation is to reach a state of torpor, defined as a gradual physiological inhibition to reduce oxygen demand and obtain energy conservation by hypometabolic behaviors altering biochemical processes. In previous studies, it was demonstrated that physiological and biochemical events could inhibit endogenous thermoregulation before the onset of hypothermia in a challenging process known as "estivation." This is indispensable to survive harsh environmental conditions, as seen in some amphibians and reptiles.[15]

Scientific possibilities


Lowering the temperature of a substance reduces chemical activity by the Arrhenius equation. This includes life processes such as metabolism.

Hypothermic range

In June 2005, scientists at the University of Pittsburgh's Safar Center for Resuscitation Research announced they had managed to place dogs in suspended animation and bring them back to life, most of them without brain damage, by draining the blood out of the dogs' bodies and injecting a low temperature solution into their circulatory systems, which in turn keeps the bodies alive in stasis. After three hours of being clinically dead, the dogs' blood was returned to their circulatory systems, and the animals were revived by delivering an electric shock to their hearts. The heart started pumping the blood around the body, and the dogs were brought back to life.[16]

On 20 January 2006, doctors from the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston announced they had placed pigs in suspended animation with a similar technique. The pigs were anaesthetized and major blood loss was induced, along with simulated - via scalpel - severe injuries (e.g. a punctured aorta as might happen in a car accident or shooting). After the pigs lost about half their blood the remaining blood was replaced with a chilled saline solution. As the body temperature reached 10 °C (50 °F) the damaged blood vessels were repaired and the blood was returned.[17] The method was tested 200 times with a 90% success rate.[18]

From May 2014, a team of surgeons from UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh plan to try the above method in gunshot victims (or those suffering from similar traumatic injuries). The trials will be done on ten such severely wounded patients and compared with ten others in similar situation but who had no access to the above method. They currently refer to the procedure as Emergency Preservation and Resuscitation for Cardiac Arrest from trauma.[19]

Cryogenic range

This concept is speculative as well as frequently misunderstood. Human beings are unable to survive suspended animation at cryogenic (extremely cold) temperatures naturally. The limits of current technology are also insufficient to prevent loss of cellular viability. Cryonics operates under a fundamentally distinct paradigm from suspended animation in that it depends on future technology as part of its premise for working. It is not currently possible to preserve mental capacities and memories by this method and only currently to cells and microorganisms.

Suspended animation is distinct from cryonics because it does not require this "benefit of the doubt" concerning future technology. It is something that immediately and demonstrably works. The medical use of suspended animation will still require optimism that diseases can be cured.

In order to achieve suspended animation, a reliable method to prevent damage to cells would be needed. Vitrification can achieve this in the laboratory only for small amounts of tissue due to cooling and other physical limits combined with cryoprotectant toxicity.[21] There is also only limited evidence that it is possible in principle, because only very small organisms can be vitrified or frozen safely. Research on Caenorhabditis elegans has shown that memories can be recovered, and such organisms can survive vitrification with around 100% success rates.[22][23][24][25]

Chemically induced

Some Research institutes like Roth Lab founded by Mark Roth have studied seriously the possibility of suspended animation, originally for chromosome isolation, and diagnosing several illnesses like cancer.

An article in the 22 April 2005 issue of the scientific journal Science reports success towards inducing suspended animation-like hypothermia in mice. The findings are significant, as mice do not hibernate in nature.

The laboratory of Mark B. Roth at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, placed the mice in a chamber containing 80 ppm hydrogen sulfide for a duration of 6 hours. The core body temperature of the mice dropped to 13 degrees Celsius and metabolism, as assayed by carbon dioxide production and oxygen use, decreased 10-fold.[26] They also induced hypoxia on nematode embryos and zebrafish embryos, placing them in suspended animation for hours, and then re-animating them simply by returning the oxygen to the embryos.[27]

In trauma, the Roth laboratory and institutes such as Suspended Animation, Inc are trying to implement suspended animation as a medical procedure which involves the therapeutic induction to a complete and temporary systemic ischemia, directed to obtain a state of tolerance for the protection-preservation of the entire organism, this during a circulatory collapse "only by a limited period of one hour". The purpose to avoid a serious injury, risk of brain damage or death, until the patient reaches specialized attention.[28]

Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston announced they had been able to hibernate mice using the same method. Their heart rate was slowed down from 500 to 200 beats per minute, respiration fell from 120 to 25 breaths per minute and body temperature dropped to 30 °C (natural: 39 °C). After 2 hours of breathing air without hydrogen sulfide the mice returned to normal. Further studies are needed to see if the gas had damaging effects on the brain, considering the effect of hydrogen sulfide on the body is similar to hydrogen cyanide; it does not slow the metabolic rate but rather inhibits the transfer of energy within the cell via ATP.[29]

Experiments on sedated sheep[30] and partially ventilated anesthetized pigs[31] have been unsuccessful, suggesting that application to large mammals may not be feasible. In any case, long term suspended animation has not been attempted.

Genetically Induced

Ongoing research is being conducted into Tardigrades to isolate the genes responsible for their metabolic transformation into a Glass like state thus fully preserving them for decades in Dry conditions.

See also


  1. ^ "Suspended Animation".
  2. ^ Asfar, P; Calzia, E; Radermacher, P (2014). "Is pharmacological, H2S-induced 'suspended animation' feasible in the ICU?". Crit Care. 18 (2): 215. doi:10.1186/cc13782. PMC 4060059. PMID 25028804.
  3. ^ "FROZEN IN TIME Terminally ill Brit schoolgirl, 14, wins court battle to have her body cryogenically frozen for £37k after her death in case she can be resurrected in future". 16 November 2016. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  4. ^ Asfar, P. (2014). "Is pharmacological, H2S-induced 'suspended animation' feasible in the ICU?". Critical Care. 182 (2): 215. doi:10.1186/cc13782. PMC 4060059. PMID 25028804.
  5. ^ "How do frogs survive winter? Why don't they freeze to death?". Scientific American. 11 July 2014. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
  6. ^ ":Molecular death is". Forensic
  7. ^ "Definition of suspended animation is". Forensic
  8. ^ "'Miracle' student survived his body being frozen solid". 20 January 2016. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
  9. ^ Suspended Animation? How A Boy Survived 15 Minutes Trapped Under Ice In Frozen Lake at Medical Daily
  10. ^ Japanese man in mystery survival at BBC News
  11. ^ Eleva boy’s story part of national tour to honor Mayo Clinics 150 years Archived 11 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine Mayo Clinic
  12. ^ Warick, Jason (23 February 2002). "'Miracle child' bears few scars one year after brush with death". Edmonton Journal. p. A3.
  13. ^ New Hibernation Technique might work on humans | LiveScience at
  14. ^ Race to be first to 'hibernate' human beings - Times Online at
  15. ^ "Is Human Hibernation Possible?" (PDF).
  16. ^ Mihm, Stephen (11 December 2005). "Zombie Dogs". The New York Times.
  17. ^ Alam HB, Rhee P, Honma K, Chen H, Ayuste EC, Lin T, Toruno K, Mehrani T, Engel C, Chen Z. (2006). "Does the rate of rewarming from profound hypothermic arrest influence the outcome in a swine model of lethal hemorrhage?". J Trauma. 60 (1): 134–146. doi:10.1097/ PMID 16456447.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  18. ^ "Doctors claim suspended animation success". The Sydney Morning Herald. 20 January 2006. Retrieved 10 October 2006.
  19. ^ "Left between life and death: First 'suspended animation' trials set to begin in bid to buy time for stabbing and gunshot victims".
  20. ^ Cryonet 2008 Suspended Animation vs Cryonics
  21. ^ Fahy, Gregory M.; Wowk, Brian (2015). Principles of Cryopreservation by Vitrification. Methods in Molecular Biology. 1257. pp. 30–33. doi:10.1007/978-1-4939-2193-5_2. ISBN 978-1-4939-2192-8. PMID 25428002.
  22. ^ Vita-More, Barranco. "Persistence of Long-Term Memory in Vitrified and Revived C. elegans." Rejuvenation Research doi: 10.1089/rej.2014.1636
  23. ^ "Basic principles of cryopreservation" (PDF).
  24. ^ "Cryogenic Storage of Human Hematopoietic Progenitor Cells" (PDF).
  25. ^ "Vitrification: Preservation of Cellular implants" (PDF).
  26. ^ Blackstone, E.; Morrison, M.; Roth, M. (2005). "H2S induces a suspended animation-like state in mice". Science. 308 (5721): 518. CiteSeerX doi:10.1126/science.1108581. PMID 15845845.
  27. ^ "Oxygen deprivation causes suspended animation in the zebrafish embryo" (PDF).
  28. ^ Bellamy, R; Safar, P; Tisherman, S. A; Basford, R; Bruttig, S. P; Capone, A; Dubick, M. A; Ernster, L; Hattler Jr, B. G; Hochachka, P; Klain, M; Kochanek, P. M; Kofke, W. A; Lancaster, J. R; McGowan Jr, F. X; Oeltgen, P. R; Severinghaus, J. W; Taylor, M. J; Zar, H (1996). "Suspended animation for delayed resuscitation. Crit Care Med. 1996 Feb;24(2 Suppl):S24-47". Critical Care Medicine. 24 (2 Suppl): S24–47. doi:10.1097/00003246-199602000-00046. PMID 8608704.
  29. ^ "Gas induces 'suspended animation'". BBC News. 9 October 2006. Retrieved 10 October 2006.
  30. ^ Haouzi P; Notet V; Chenuel B; Chalon B; Sponne I; et al. (2008). "H2S induced hypometabolism in mice is missing in sedated sheep". Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology. 160 (1): 109–115. doi:10.1016/j.resp.2007.09.001. PMID 17980679.
  31. ^ Li, Jia; Zhang, Gencheng; Cai, Sally; Redington, Andrew N (January 2008). "Effect of inhaled hydrogen sulfide on metabolic responses in anesthetized, paralyzed, and mechanically ventilated piglets". Pediatric Critical Care Medicine. 9 (1): 110–112. doi:10.1097/01.PCC.0000298639.08519.0C. PMID 18477923. Retrieved 23 March 2008. (Subscription required (help)). H2S does not appear to have hypometabolic effects in ambiently cooled large mammals and conversely appears to act as a hemodynamic and metabolic stimulant.

External links

100th (Yeomanry) Regiment Royal Artillery

100 (Yeomanry) Regiment Royal Artillery was part of the Army Reserve and had sub-units throughout the South of England. It had three gun batteries all equipped with the L118 Light Gun. The Regiment's original role was British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) emergency reinforcement, emphasised by its transfer into 49 Infantry Brigade under part of 2 Division. Under 'Options for Change', the Regiment became a general support unit fitted out with the 155 towed FH70 gun and assigned to 3 Division; in 1999 it was reassigned as a CS (Close Support) Regiment, losing its ability to deploy as a whole unit. Under Army 2020 it was placed in suspended animation.

Animali In Calore Surriscaldati Con Ipertermia Genitale/Cat in Red

Animali In Calore Surriscaldati Con Ipertermia Genitale/Cat in Red is the name of the split record Fantômas and Melt-Banana released in 2005 through Italian record label, Unhip Records. It was released both on 5" vinyl and 3" CD. It is now presumably out of print and difficult to find. The Fantômas track is taken from the recording sessions that produced both of their previous releases, 2005's Suspended Animation and 2004's Delìrium Còrdia, the title of which roughly translates to "Animals In Heat Being Overheated By Genital Hyperthermia."

Captain America (William Burnside)

William Burnside, also known as the Captain America of the 1950s, is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. He was created by writer Steve Englehart and artist Sal Buscema in Captain America #153–156 (September–December, 1972) as an explanation for the reappearance of Captain America and Bucky in 1953 in Young Men comics and their subsequent adventures in the 1950s. It established that the character was a completely different one from the original Captain America, who was firmly established in The Avengers (vol. 1) #4 as disappearing near the end of World War II.

In a later storyline, the character was given a new white costume and the title The Grand Director by Buscema and writers Roger McKenzie and Jim Shooter, in Captain America #232 (April, 1979), and altered to be a villain and leader of a group of white supremacists that included a brainwashed Sharon Carter. The character was killed off at the end of that storyline and not used again until Captain America (Vol. 5) #42, returning to being active as the Captain America of the 1950s separate from the then-current Captain America, James "Bucky" Barnes.

Jack Monroe (comics)

Jack Monroe is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was originally introduced as third sidekick under the Bucky identity, and he later the most well-known incarnation of Nomad.

List of Royal Artillery batteries

The Royal Regiment of Artillery is an Arm of the British Army. The Regiment is made up of two distinct arms; the Royal Horse Artillery and the Royal Artillery. Somewhat confusingly both consist of a number of Regiments, which are comparable to Battalions in size. Each regiment is made up of a number of Batteries.

Mark Roth (scientist)

Mark Roth (born 1957) is an American biochemist, and director of the Roth Lab at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He is a professor at the University of Washington.

Microbial cyst

A microbial cyst is a resting or dormant stage of a microorganism, usually a bacterium or a protist or rarely an invertebrate animal, that helps the organism to survive in unfavorable environmental conditions. It can be thought of as a state of suspended animation in which the metabolic processes of the cell are slowed down and the cell ceases all activities like feeding and locomotion. Encystment also helps the microbe to disperse easily, from one host to another or to a more favorable environment. When the encysted microbe reaches an environment favorable to its growth and survival, the cyst wall breaks down by a process known as excystation.

Unfavorable environmental conditions such as lack of nutrients or oxygen, extreme temperatures, lack of moisture and presence of toxic chemicals, which are not conducive for the growth of the microbe trigger the formation of a cyst.

Planet Earth (film)

Planet Earth is a science fiction television movie that was created by Gene Roddenberry, written by Roddenberry and Juanita Bartlett (from a story by Roddenberry). It first aired on April 23, 1974 on the ABC network, and stars John Saxon as Dylan Hunt. It was presented as a pilot for what was hoped to be a new weekly television series. The pilot focused on gender relations from an early 1970s perspective. Dylan Hunt, confronted with a post-apocalyptic matriarchal society, muses, "Women's lib? Or women's lib gone mad..."Planet Earth was the second attempt by Roddenberry to create a weekly series set on a post-apocalyptic future Earth. The previous pilot was Genesis II, and it featured many of the concepts and characters later redeveloped and mostly recast in Planet Earth. Sets and props from Genesis II also found their way into Planet Earth.A third and final movie, Strange New World, was aired in 1975. This movie also starred John Saxon as Captain Anthony Vico. In this movie a trio of astronauts returns to Earth after 180 years in suspended animation to locate the underground headquarters of PAX and free the people placed there in suspended animation.

None of these three pilots was ever developed into a series; however, some of the characters served as prototypes for the later TV series (based on Roddenberry's ideas), Andromeda.

Sleeper ship

A sleeper ship is a hypothetical type of crewed spacecraft in which most or all of the crew spends the journey in some form of hibernation or suspended animation. The only known technology that allows long-term suspended animation of humans is the freezing of early-stage human embryos through embryo cryopreservation, which is behind the concept of embryo space colonization.

The most common role of sleeper ships in fiction is for interstellar or intergalactic travel, usually at sub-light speed. Travel times for such journeys could reach into the hundreds or thousands of years, making some form of life extension, such as suspended animation, necessary for the original crew to live to see their destination. Suspended animation is also required on ships that cannot be used as generation ships.

Freezing the astronauts would probably involve whole-body vitrification and would, most likely, be frozen at 145 kelvins to reduce the risk of fracturing.Suspended animation can also be useful to reduce the consumption of life support system resources by crew members who are not needed during the trip, or by an author as a plot device, and for this reason sleeper ships sometimes also make an appearance in the context of purely interplanetary travel.

Suspended Animation, Inc

Suspended Animation, Inc (SA) was founded in 2002 in Boynton Beach, FL. SA's purpose is to preserve bodies immediately after legal death to minimize the damages that occur before the body is cryopreserved. SA does not actually perform final cryopreservation, rather, they work with companies such as Alcor Life Extension Foundation and Cryonics Institute which carry out the cryopreservations. Unlike Alcor Life Extension Foundation and Cryonics Institute, Suspended Animation, Inc does not offer memberships, but rather gains revenue from performing the one-time procedure.

Suspended Animation (Esham album)

Suspended Animation is the twelfth studio album by Esham. It was released on August 3, 2010 on Reel Life Productions. On December 7, Esham released a follow-up EP, Subatomic Jetpack. It was not an extended version of the album, but a standalone disc containing 32 additional tracks from the recording sessions.

Suspended Animation (Fantômas album)

Suspended Animation is the fourth studio album by American experimental band Fantômas. It is a concept album that incorporates a dual theme of cartoon sounds/music as well as paying tribute to obscure and dubious holidays throughout the month of April.

Suspended Animation (John Petrucci album)

Suspended Animation is a studio album by Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci, released independently in 2005 through Sound Mind Music. The songs "Jaws of Life", "Glasgow Kiss" and "Damage Control" have been played during the G3 tour, and the latter two are featured as openers to the 2005 DVD and live album G3: Live in Tokyo. Some releases of the album have "Curve" split into two separate tracks, with the majority of the song on track six and the latter portion on track seven. On these editions, "Lost Without You" and "Animate-Inanimate" form tracks eight and nine respectively. The correct track listing, without the aforementioned anomalies, is shown below.

Suspended Animation (The Monks album)

Suspended Animation is an album by The Monks, released in 1981 in Canada on the Polydor label. In Germany it was released on CBS.

This album was the follow-up to the band's debut album, Bad Habits. The songs are composed by Richard Hudson, John Ford, and Terry Cassidy.

The album was reissued in the U.K., on CD for the first time, on August 24, 1999 on the Resurgent label. It was released yet again on January 12, 2009 on Angel Air Records. The re-released versions of the album featured six additional songs, from the band's never-completed third album, Cybernetic Sister.

In 2004, John Ford featured "Suspended Animation" on his solo album Backtracking, released on Whole Shot Records.

Suspended Animation (film)

Suspended Animation is a 2003 film directed by John D. Hancock and starring Alex McArthur.

Suspended animation in fiction

Suspended animation in fiction is the temporary halting of life processes of fictional characters followed by their later revival.

The process often serves as a plot device and is used in innumerable science fiction stories as a means to transport a character from the past into the future or to aid interstellar space travel. Often, in addition to accomplishing whatever the character's primary task is in the future, he or she must cope with the strangeness of a new world, which may contain only traces of his or her previous surroundings. In some instances, a character is depicted as having skills or abilities that have been lost to society during their period of suspension, allowing them to function as a heroic figure in their new time.

The Long Morrow

"The Long Morrow" is episode 135 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. It originally aired on January 10, 1964 on CBS. In this episode, an astronaut falls in love on the eve of a 40-year-long space voyage. The story focuses on how he and his lover confront the problem that his 40 years in suspended animation will cause a wide age disparity between them by the time he returns.

V Battery Royal Horse Artillery

V Battery Royal Horse Artillery was a battery of the Royal Horse Artillery. Formed in 1804, the battery took part in the Napoleonic Wars – notably the Peninsular War and Battle of Waterloo – before being placed into suspended animation in 1816 as part of the usual post-war reductions of the British Army.

Reformed in 1900, the battery saw active service on the Western Front and in Mesopotamia during the First World War. Reverting to the Royal Artillery as V Battery Royal Artillery, it served in North Africa and the Far East in the Second World War.

Since the Second World War, it has seen a wide variety of service as towed and self-propelled artillery, a training unit, and latterly as an Aviation Tactical Group. It has been based in Germany as part of the BAOR, Malaysia and Borneo (Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation) and Afghanistan (Operation Herrick). In May 2013 it was placed in suspended animation a second time.

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