27/05/2014 11:42 BST | Updated 27/05/2014 11:59 BST

'Suspended Animation' Trials To Start On Humans

A new procedure that would suspend patients between life and death could give doctors more time to fix life-threatening injuries.

Described as 'suspended animation', the idea is to make it easier to carry out operations on otherwise lethal wounds. But let's be clear - it sounds awful.

The procedure apparently involves replacing all of a patient's blood with a cooled saline solution, slowing the body's functions to a halt and reducing the need for oxygen, without technically killing the patient in the process.

"We are suspending life, but we don't like to call it suspended animation because it sounds like science fiction," Doctor Samuel Tisherman, the surgeon who will lead the trial, told New Scientist.

"So we call it emergency preservation and resuscitation."

The technique has reportedly already been carried out on pigs - as long ago as the year 2000 - and proved to be successful in 90 percent of cases.

Scientists at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh will try the technique on 10 patients to start with, and if it works a larger roll out could be on the cards.