Very often in the ER a few minutes can make a big difference, a difference between life and death. For those who arrive at the hospital with severe injuries, doctors have little time to do something. Is there a way to extend the time the surgeons have for helping the patients? Doctor Samuel Tisherman of Presbyterian Hospital UMPS of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, developed a new procedure of cooling the patients, which keeps them alive for about 2 hours and which could lead to saving their lives.
Doctor Tisherman has worked for years as a ER surgeon and saw numberless cases in which the life of the patients was hanging in the balance. A few more moments of blood circulation in the body, especially in the brain could have saved many lives. When loss of blood is intense, the brain remains without oxygen and in a few moments it “turns off” and this can lead to death or to a situation in which the brain damages are irreversible.
What is there to do in a situation like this? Dr. Tisherman comes with an innovative procedure which, by intensively cooling the body, keeps the severely injured somewhere between life and death, but giving the surgeons more time to take certain steps and perform the operations.
At a normal body temperature (about 37 Celsius degrees) the cells feed with a certain quantity of oxygen which is transported in the body by the blood. If the heart stops beating and thus stops pumping the blood into the body, the cells lack the oxygen needed for the chemical processes that keep them alive; the brain has an autonomy of about 5 minutes.
At lower temperatures, the chemical processes are slower and the cells need less oxygen. This is why those who fell in a frozen lake could be brought back to life even after more than a half an hour, without breathing; the temperature of their body was very low, and the need for oxygen was also lower.
Samuel Tisherman developed a new procedure letting the patients in a state between life and death, but allowing the surgeons to have more time in order to take measures and to save more lives.