The head of ICU at the Stony Brook University Hospital on Long Island wants to change how medical professionals respond to cardiac arrest.

The Guardian is reporting that the British-trained physician, Sam Parnia, M.D., specializes in resurrection.  His patients can be dead for several hours before he is able to resuscitate them and restore them to live full lives.  Patients who experience cardiac arrest and are treated with Parnia’s methods at Stony Brook are twice as likely to be resuscitated than patients treated with traditional methods at other U.S. hospitals.  Despite this, his methods have yet to be adopted across the country.

Frustrated with the lack of change, Dr. Parnia as written a book called The Lazarus Effect.  According to Parnia,

It is my belief that anyone who dies of a cause that is reversible should not really die any more. That is: every heart attack victim should no longer die.  I have to be careful when I state that because people will say, ‘My husband has died recently and you are saying that need not have happened.’ But the fact is heart attacks themselves are quite easily managed. If you can manage the process of death properly then you go in, take out the clot, put a stent in, the heart will function in most cases. And the same with infections, pneumonia, or whatever. People who don’t respond to antibiotics in time, we could keep them there for a while longer [after they had died] until they did respond.

Parnia estimates that 40,000 people in the U.S. could be saved each year using these techniques.  After cardiac arrest, Parnia drastically cools the patient’s body to slow neuronal deterioration and then maintains oxygen levels to the brain with an ECMO.  This technique puts the patient’s blood through a membrane oxygenator and pumps it back into their body.  This process provides doctors the time they need to fix the problem that caused cardiac arrest to begin with.

Use of ECMO machines in cases of cardiac arrest is standard practice in Japanese hospitals.  Parnia is hoping that American hospitals will soon follow suit.

To access The Guardian article, click here.