This could have been useful in ways I’ll explain later; but it seems in India they have blocked an experiment to raise the dead. Excerpt:
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has derailed a controversial experiment that would seek to revive brain-dead accident victims. On 11 November, ICMR’s National Institute of Medical Statistics removed the “ReAnima” trial from India’s clinical trial registry.
In May, Himanshu Bansal, an orthopedic surgeon at Anupam Hospital in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand, announced plans to give around 20 brain-dead people a mix of interventions including injections of mesenchymal stem cells and peptides, and transcranial laser stimulation and median nerve stimulation. Transcranial laser stimulation involves shining pulses of near-infrared light into the brain; median nerve stimulation is the electrical stimulation of a major nerve that runs from the neck to the arm. Both techniques have been shown to improve cognition in patients with traumatic brain injury. Bioquark, a biotech firm based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, had agreed to supply the trial with peptides that are said to help regenerate brain cells.
In interviews with Indian media in the spring, Bansal described his aim as bringing brain-dead individuals back to a “minimally conscious state” in which patients show flickers of consciousness, such as moving their eyes to track objects. Although there is scant evidence that brain-dead people can recover such function, Bansal says the medical literature describes a significant number of cases of people who have recovered full consciousness from a minimally conscious state.
Let’s forget about brain death for a moment, and focus in on this “full consciousness from a minimally conscious state.” Boy howdy, can I think of any number of people who could benefit from that treatment; almost every member of Congress, for a start.
Biology is a messy business. There are very few solid defining lines in biology; even the concept of “species,” once considered a quantum definition describing the various types of animals, is shaky and has lots of ragged edges. So it is as well with death. It’s unclear when the various parts of the body, composed as they are of individual cells, are “dead.” So there may be something to this; a re-stimulation of the brain cells and the peripheral nervous system may well jump-start a technically brain-dead person back to animation.
All kidding aside, it’s important to point out that a person in this state, one who can be revived, is not technically dead. If the definition of death is to mean anything, it has to be defined as an irreversible state; that is, one from which no recovery is possible. Interesting as this proposed technique is, if successful it is not a resurrection; it is just a revival.
Personally, I’d prefer to eschew any such efforts on the behalf of my own aged carcass. Robert Heinlein once pointed out that “going to the showers is the best part of the game,” and while I’m not sure I share his cavalier attitude to the inevitable shuffle off the mortal coil, nor do I see the value in going to such heroic efforts in the chance of reviving to a “minimally conscious state.” No thanks.