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Suspended Animation

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Suspended Animation: An Overview

Suspended animation is a method of figuratively postponing life. It is the brief cessation of vital bodily processes when a person is still alive. Clinical studies for this method are being conducted at the Universities of Maryland and Pittsburgh. The name given to this method in the scientific community is "Emergency Preservation and Resuscitation." In a hospital in Pittsburgh, a group of surgeons has just begun testing the EPR approach in clinical settings.

What is Suspended Animation?

Suspended animation is the halting of life processes by exogenous or endogenous mechanisms without putting a stop to actual life. Other involuntary activities like breathing, heartbeat, and others may still exist, but they can only be observed artificially. Because of this, this process has been compared to a sluggish condition in nature, when animals or plants appear to be dead over time but can later wake up or survive without any harm. This has variously been referred to as hibernation, dormancy, or anabiosis (this last in some aquatic invertebrates and plants in scarcity conditions).

Suspended Animation Causes

There are many causes of suspended animation. Some of the causes are given below:

  • Epilepsy

  • Head injury

  • Anaesthesia

  • Shock

  • Sunstroke

  • Snakebite

  • To slow metabolism

Suspended Animation in Seeds

Suspended animation in seeds is known as dormancy. It is defined as the temporarily stopping or slowing of biological metabolism to preserve energy and food. An embryo encircled in a seed remains suspended until it germinates. A dormant state is essential for plants in adverse conditions to save food and energy. There are various types of seed dormancy in plants. These are physical, physiological, and morphological.

Suspended Animations in Humans

There are many techniques of suspended animation, one of the techniques of suspended animation is by induction of hypothermia. This body is flushed with ice fluids and reduces the temperature of the core body by 10°C. Decrease body temperature, reduce metabolism, and reduce oxygen demand and consumption. This is also a type of human hibernation

Methods of Suspended Animation

  1. Temperature-induced

According to the Arrhenius equation, lowering a substance's temperature decreases its chemical activity. This covers biological functions like metabolism. Cryonics, if ever developed, would be a type of permanent suspended animation.

  1. Emergency Preservation and Resuscitation

Emergency Preservation and Resuscitation (EPR) is a technique for delaying the physiological reactions that, in the event of a serious injury, would result in death. This entails bringing the body temperature down below the current threshold for therapeutic hypothermia, which is 94 °F (34 °C).

  1. Hypothermic Experiments on Animals

By draining the blood from the dogs' bodies and injecting a low-temperature solution into their circulatory systems, scientists at the University of Pittsburgh's Safar Center for Resuscitation Research reported in June 2005 that they had successfully put dogs in suspended animation and brought them back to life, most of them without brain damage. The dogs' blood was put back into their circulatory systems after three hours of being declared clinically dead, and after receiving an electric shock to the heart, the animals were brought back to life. The canines were revived when the heart began pumping blood around the body.

  1. Chemically Induced

To achieve a state of tolerance for the protection-preservation of the entire organism during a circulatory collapse "only by a limited period of one hour," Mark Roth's laboratory at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and organisations like Suspended Animation, Inc. are working to put suspended animation into practice as a medical procedure. The intention is to prevent major harm, including the possibility of brain damage or death until the patient receives professional care.

Important Questions

  1. Can humans go into stasis?

Ans: Yes, a human can go in stasis for 2-4 days.

  1. What is suspended animation used for?

Ans: Suspended animation is used for the preservation of vital organs such as the brain and during cardiac arrest.

  1. Does suspended animation stop ageing?

Ans: No, suspended animation can't stop ageing.

  1. What are the different words used for suspended animation?

Ans: Different words like motionless, cryonics, and deep freezing can be used for suspended animation.

Interesting Facts

  • In Humans, suspended state can be achieved at 10°C.

  • It is used to preserve the human brain.

  • Hydrogen sulphide can also be used for suspended animation.

  • For hibernation, the oxygen amount decreased.

Practice Questions

  1. What animals can go into suspended animation?

  2. Is human hibernation real?

  3. Is coma a suspended animation?


In this article, we have discussed about suspended animation, which is a state of temporarily arrest. We have also explained various causes of suspended animation such as head injury, anaesthesia, etc, suspended animation in seeds which is known as dormancy, suspended animation in humans, and also various methods of suspended animation.

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FAQs on Suspended Animation

1. Write about the medical procedure proposed for suspended animation.

The procedure for suspended animation is explained below:

  • This technique is used in patients with deep wounds.

  • Then a large tube is placed in the aorta. 

  • As we know Brain cannot survive more than a few minutes without the blood supply, so the blood supply of cold  salt solution send to the brain through the heart.

  • The solution is swapped in the whole blood, and the doctor needs to treat the trauma after two hours.

  • Then the salt solution is replaced with blood again.

2. What are the different advantages of suspended animation?

There are various advantages of suspended animation. Some of the advantages are given below:

  • Suspended animation induced through hypothermia used for open heart surgeries as an alternative to a lung heart machine.

  • Astronauts are also placed in suspended animation as a method to reach the end of their intergalactic journey avoiding the need for a gigantic sheep.

  • This process is also used to save the lives of seriously ill or injured patients by putting them in a state of hibernation until treatment is given. 

3. Explain the basic principle of suspended animation.

It is defined as pausing of life process by exogenous or endogenous method without terminating the life process of organisms. Breathing, heartbeat, and other involuntary functions may occur but all other voluntary functions have stopped in suspended animation.  It can also be defined as the condition of apparent death or interruption of vital signs. People can return from suspended animation in only over half an hour, two hours, or eight hours. 

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