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First Aid
Death and Dying

Can you revive a dead person?


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March 06, 2014 3:28AM

Yes but not always . Recent developments in in 2013 in America, Japan and Australia have meant that clinically dead people from 1 to 3 hours have been resurrected after cardiac arrest using mechanical CPR combined with ECMO treatment( extracorporeal membrane oxygenation - an artificial lung hat keeps oxygen and blood flowing to the brain and vital organs) . A new machine called "Äuto Pulse" uses a band that wraps around and squuezes the entire chest providing precise and consistent compressions.

Brain death is a different matter. Once someone has no activity in the brain stem or brain they are technically dead .However you can revive the body and keep it alive on a life support system BUT the person is considered dead. Keeping a body alive is occassionally done in order to be able to harvest organs or in unusual circumstances to keep a viable environment for a fetus to allow it to continue to develop until it is ready to be born when the mother has died.

Generally while health care professionals will do their best to revive someone, even then the success rate is low. Typically they'll perform CPR as long as needed or until a doctor call the time of death. But during CPR the brain is still being deprived of oxygen so if the person does survive they often have varying levels of brain damage.

The determination of death has always been a problem. In times prior to the 19th century a "'wake" was conducted for the dead. A wake is a period of lasting from 3 to 14 days so that people could observe the body to see if the victim was really dead rather than comatose. This was more than enough time for decomposition to set in which is absolute proof of death. Once decomposition begins ressurection is impossible.

Early morticians would often perform "tests" on the apparent cadavers, either something painful that might cause a response, or some act that would make sure the subject was truly dead.

In the 1980's the call on death was no EKG and flat EEG, or cessation of breathing for over 9 minutes or so. However, this wasn't always reliable either.

Sudden immersion in ice-water sometimes causes "diving reflex" to activate and victims can in rare instances be revived after appearing clinically dead . This is thought to be akin to the reflexive reaction marine mammals experience when they dive deeply and remain submerged for as much as an hour or more. During this time, blood transfuses, body processes decline sharply, breathing stops, and pulse can drop as low as 3 beats per minute, or less. In humans, the likelihood of diving reflex kicking in is dramatically improved with the coldness of the water, the youth of the victim, and the face being immersed.