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Does the Church oppose Suspended Animation as a life-support technique?

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Suspended animation is not currently established as a life-support technique. What is proposed is to remove a substantial quantity of blood from the body, replace it with a saline solution and to lower the body core temperature some 20 degrees if not more in order to basically induce hypothermia which theoretically will slow heart rate, respiration and cellular function without inducing death, thus allowing the human being to be transported or preserved for several precious hours. The benefit of suspended animation is that it can give a person a few more hours to live if medical treatment is on the way or an operation requires more time than a damaged body can naturally support. Tests with animals have proved successful, both in suspension and revival, albeit there is a statistically significant portion that suffer from severe nerve or brain damage upon recovery. Most animals can only be suspended for 2 to 6 hours, as anything longer results in death. Humans would probably have a low grace period as the complexity of the human brain would make it susceptible to brain damage if normal oxygen flow is suspended for a long period of time.

The Catholic Church is not opposed to life support systems or techniques when the person is in danger of death and there is a reasonable chance of recovery. Suspended animation is basically artificial hypothermia and scientists and doctors recognize that this is a very temporal solution to an immediate problem. As such, the Church would support suspended animation as a last ditch effort to save a life. What perhaps the Church would have qualms over is how such a technique is to be tested and developed on human subjects. From the Church's point of view, since there is a chance of failure or damage to the brain and central nervous system, the fledging technique will probably have to be applied only in those cases where all other options have been exhausted.

The Church does not view death as a bad thing. Therefore, It does not encourage its members to spend unreasonable amounts of resources in saving a life when it is the soul that must be saved. As well, keeping a body artificially alive when it is obvious the soul has passed on is not condoned by the Church; people should be allowed to die when it is their time. If the suspended animation technique proves reasonable - and so far it does - then Catholics may have no qualms about using it, so long as they are resigned to the reality of death and seek to prepare their souls.
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