Bringing people back from death

April 14, 2013

The Guardian: American intensive care specialist Dr Sam Parnia has a miraculous reputation as the man who brings people back from the dead.

In the average American hospital, the chance of successfully¬†being resuscitated after a cardiac arrest is around 16%. However in Dr Parnia’s emergency room at the¬†Stony Brook University Hospital in New York, that figure is as high as 33%.

Dr Parnia claims the ‘cheap and straightforward’ methods he uses to resuscitate patients – some of whom have been clinically dead for hours – could save up to 40,000 lives in America each year.

The technique, called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, involves siphoning out blood from the body of the ‘dead’ person, reoxygenating and warming it, then pumping it back in again. The idea is that it maintains blood oxygen levels just high enough to preserve the brain and vital organs while doctors attempt to fix the cause of the cardiac arrest.

He has written about his experiences in a new book The Lazarus Effect, in which Parnia also muses on the nature of life and death. Read more here.

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