Scientists have successfully restored cellular activity in the brains of pigs hours after their deaths. The research raises new questions around the determination of death, widely defined by the irreversible loss of all brain function.
Changing that definition raises a host of bioethical issues about the very definition of brain death and the protocols related to organ donation.
The experiment was specifically designed to avoid the possibility of reawakening consciousness in the disembodied pig brains. The research grew out of efforts to enhance the study of brain development, disorders and evolution.
The results of the experiments are going to be published in the journal Nature. The findings run contrary to the accepted principles of brain death, that cellular activity ceases irreversibly seconds or minutes after oxygen and blood flow are cut off from the brain.