22 October 2004

With all my heart

I woke up late this morning.

I have this "5 minutes! 5 minutes!" syndrome actually. When I first saw the clock registering 6:00AM, I said to myself, I still have an hour's worth of sleep! So sleep I did. And the second time I woke up, my wife was already getting out of bed. My Gulay! It's already 9:00!

Well, waking up late has its disadvantages, the most obvious one being very, very late for work. I cannot do anything more about it, so switch on the TV I did. National Geographic Channel. Wow, it's been quite a while since I last watched National Geographic.

The scientists were studying bears in hibernation. Interesting stuff. They were able to discoverwhat triggers hibernation. It is actually a molecule in the bloodstream which, when triggered, causes the heart to slow down dramatically and metabolism almost to a halt. They are now capable of synthesizing this molecule, and has been found to work for mice and monkeys. They hibernated even though they don't do this in their normal state.

To make the long story short, helpful applications have been found for this. In the show, they operated on a pig (the pig's heart is larger in size and is anatomically similar with human's). They removed the heart, inserted tubes into it, and let a transparent blood substitute (like water) flow through it. The synthesized hibernation substance was also mixed here. A little electric jolt and it pumped! It was weird to see the heart pumping like that outside a body.

With the hibernation substance, scientists can lengthen the life of organ donations as it is transported for use. Normally, after 6 hours, the organ will no longer be of any use to anyone. With this breakthrough, they can lengthen this time to 18 hours!

Another application: people who are also injured (such as in a battle) can also be put into hibernation so their chances of being saved as they are transported to a hospital becomes much greater. People on the operating table can also be put into hibernation mode, resulting in lesser loss of blood and higher chances of recovery.

And because the pig's heart is anatomically similar to humans', it is highly possible that this can be a substitute for the human heart. That will certainly give the phrase "I love you with all my heart" a whole new meaning.

So the question now is: Do you also have the "5 minute" syndrome like I have? And while pondering on that important question, maybe you can also add this question: has science gone too far?
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