Scientists revive dead pigs' brain cells and other organs

In a Yale laboratory, researchers managed to revive the cells in the brain, heart, liver, and kidneys of pigs that had been dead for more than hour. The technique involved pumping a fluid of a synthetic protein hemoglobin and other compounds through the corpses. Six hours later, some of the organs' functions had turned back on. Eventually, the research could enable surgeons to retrieve human organs for transplant much longer after a donor has died, saving countless lives. From the New York Times:

"We did not know what to expect," said Dr. David Andrijevic, also a neuroscientist at Yale and one of the authors of the paper [published in the journal Nature]. "Everything we restored was incredible to us."

Others not associated with the work were similarly astonished.

"It's unbelievable, mind blowing," said Nita Farahany, a Duke law professor who studies ethical, legal and social implications of emerging technologies.

And, Dr. Farahany added, the work raises questions about the definition of death.

"We presume death is a thing, it is a state of being," she said. "Are there forms of death that are reversible? Or not?"