Human beings have been obsessed with immortality since ancient times, whether it is the legend of Qin Shihuang’s overseas search for elixir or the tradition of local Taoism in China for alchemy and cultivation.
In western science fiction movies, there are also many "black technologies" that can bring people back to life or keep their youth forever. In 1964, Robert Edinger, an American scholar, first mentioned the concept of "freezing human body waiting for the emergence of resurrection technology" in his book. Although this theory was ridiculed by many people at that time, people were constantly inspired by this concept, eager to freeze their bodies to achieve the purpose of resurrection after death, circulation and immortality. However, 50 years have passed since the first "frozen man" in China underwent cryosurgery. What is the current situation?
The origin and development of "freezing people" technology
As early as the early 20th century, scientists discovered that many wild reptiles had the function of "bringing back the dead". For example, many frogs, in extreme cold conditions, their bodies will be frozen, but their cell tissue fluid will not form crystals because of low temperature. In the frozen state, this frog will show signs of "suspended animation", its metabolism will basically stagnate and its vital signs will be weak, but when the temperature rises, it will return to normal survival signs.
This magical phenomenon has greatly inspired scientists. They will think about whether human beings can preserve the complete human tissues by freezing the human body, and then revive them after the development of science and technology to a certain extent. This kind of daydream also gives great inspiration to art creators. In many science fiction novels and movies, magical devices like "frozen dormancy cabin" have appeared to help human beings stay young and travel through space.
In the 1960s, American scholar Robert Eddinger suffered from injuries after his participation in World War II. In those days when he was suffering from pain, the American professor got inspiration from science fiction, and thought that it was a feasible way to freeze the human body and then come back from the dead. Although the technology of "resurrection from the dead" didn’t appear in his lifetime, Edinger still firmly believed in this theory, and devoted himself to promoting his concept of "freezing resurrection" before his lifetime, even setting up relevant associations.
In 1967, James Bedford, a faithful believer of Eddinger, underwent the operation of "freezing the remains" after his death, becoming the first case of "freezing people" in the world. In 2011, Edinger, a famous scientist with the reputation of "the father of cryonics", finished his life and also underwent cryosurgery.
The basic process of "cryosurgery" is to quickly replace the blood and cell tissue fluid in human body with special compound liquid after judging death in medicine, so as to prevent human body water from crystallizing at low temperature and damaging human tissues, and then keep the human body in a low temperature environment filled with liquid nitrogen.
Theoretically, this kind of surgery can ensure that human cells can reach a "temporary dormancy" state at low temperature, and can preserve the activity of cells for a long time. Then, after the development of science and technology to a certain extent, the cells will be thawed and the tissue function will be restored. However, at present, this statement only exists in science fiction movies and has not been realized.
The first female frozen person in China
The name of the first female frozen person in China is Du Hong. She was born in a scholarly family, went to school, took the college entrance examination, worked, got married and had children. Like many ordinary women around her, she had an ordinary and simple life course.
After 40 years in the education industry, she ushered in her own retirement life. Although her life was not as leisurely as she thought, taking care of children and doing housework also made Du Hong feel a little fulfilled. At the end of 2013, Du Hong often felt stomachache, so he decided to go to the hospital for a physical examination. Unexpectedly, the test results shocked Du Hong’s family like a bolt from the blue-she became a patient with advanced pancreatic cancer. Scientists are beginning to expect hospitals to save or prolong Du Hong’s life, but medical science and technology can not be determined by people’s subjective thoughts. At that time, the doctor gave two results, either giving up treatment and waiting for death quietly, or using chemotherapy to prolong life, but then the patient would have to endure the huge side effects brought by chemotherapy, and the effect of chemotherapy could not be guaranteed.
Du Hong is a passionate and optimistic intellectual woman in her daily life. Of course, she didn’t want to endure those unnecessary pains at the last stage of her life, so she chose to give up treatment and kept an open-minded and optimistic attitude while waiting for the death sentence.
But by chance, Du Hong saw the news of the "frozen man" in Thailand on the news, so Du Hong jokingly said to her daughter, "After mom left, you might be able to freeze me, too." My mother’s joke was firmly remembered by my daughter. Later, my family contacted a scientific research institution in the United States to discuss the relevant procedures of cryosurgery and obtained Du Hong’s consent. Cryopreservation and later preservation and maintenance are expensive. Du Hong’s family is a working class, so they can’t afford the complete cost of human body preservation. At the suggestion of American staff, Du Hong and his family chose to only freeze the skull, and this cost alone has already reached 700,000 RMB. Du Hong’s family scraped together and even sold their house to make up for the operation cost.
On May 30, 2015, just as Du Hong was declared to have died of natural causes by doctors, several American doctors rushed into the ward with equipment at the first time. They replaced all the tissue fluid in Du Hong’s head with protective liquid, and then quickly frozen it in a container filled with liquid nitrogen, after which the container was sent to the San Francisco headquarters of the institution for preservation. Du Hong’s family believes that in the near future, medical technology and artificial intelligence will develop to a new height, and Du Hong’s resurrection can be completed.
Du Hong, as the first woman in China to be "frozen", still arouses people’s discussion today. Everyone admires the courage of Du Hong and her family. However, it is undeniable that more than 50 years have passed since the first case of similar freezing in the world, and no scientific research institution or organization claims that it has successfully thawed and revived human body. The mainstream medical community still has doubts about the feasibility of this operation, and believes that this operation has great risks in both legal and ethical aspects.
There is no denying that Ms. Du Hong is an extremely brave and optimistic person. We also hope that medical science and technology can develop to a certain height in the future to solve the problems of human life and death. However, the act of "bringing back the dead", which seems to Xiaobian to have violated the laws of nature and even the ethical concept, remains to be discussed, and we should treat it rationally.