What scientists say happen when human die.

These mind-blowing results were detailed in a new paper that dropped yesterday in Nature, which may force us to reconsider how we define the line between life and death. Happy Thursday.

What happened: Researchers at Yale induced cardiac arrest in some pigs, taking precautions to avoid causing the animals any suffering. The pigs were dead for an hour before something almost miraculous happened—their hearts began to beat again. Cells that had been dead were revived, and began healing themselves.

These pigs were in no way conscious, but, according to Yale neuroscientist Nenad Sestan, “We restored some functions of cells across multiple vital organs that should have been dead without our interventions.”

…how? Channeling their inner mixologists, the Yale team crafted a proprietary cocktail including nutrients, nerve blockers, anti-inflammatory meds, and other drugs. They mixed this solution, called OrganEx, with the pigs’ blood, and pumped it back through their bodies—that’s when some of those organs started to wake up from their slumber.

What it could mean for humans

A primary goal of this experiment, the scientists said, is to use this technology to increase the number of organs available for transplant. Right now, 17 people die every day waiting for an organ, but 20% of donor organs are discarded due to poor quality, Wired reports. The Yale technology could be leveraged to preserve human organs for longer—and even reverse damage to them—to increase organ supply for people who need them.

Another, more ethically tricky, use case could be to restore brain activity in patients who suffer a heart attack or a severe stroke. But that’s for another day’s Brew—the researchers warned that this tech isn’t “clinically relevant” at this point, and any application for humans is far down the road.

Big picture: These results could lead scientists and bioethicists to revisit their timeline of when a person should be considered dead. Because what the pig study shows is that cells may be able to recover after being deprived of oxygen and blood for a lot longer period than we’ve understood.—NF

morning brew