Is death really reversible? Scientists find organ donor eyes could be ‘brought back to life’ in major breakthrough
- Donor eyes reacted even to dim light ‘as they do in the living eye’
- Retina cells react to light and even communicate five hours after death
- If these extend to the brain, we could bring living things back from the dead
- Groundbreaking findings ‘raise the question of whether brain death, as currently defined, is truly irreversible’
Death could be reversible, say scientists who have found that organ donor eyes can be ‘brought back to life’.
Photosensitive cells in the retina were able to react to light and communicate with each other up to five hours after death, sending signals “resembling those recorded by living subjects”.
These retinal neurons are part of the central nervous system (CNS), including the brain and spinal cord, raising the possibility that other CNS cells may also be restored.
This breakthrough can bring back human consciousness.
To achieve their results, the scientists designed a special transport unit that could restore oxygen and other nutrients to the eyes as soon as they were removed from a donor.
The authors, writing in the journal Nature, said the study “raises the question of whether brain death, as currently defined, is truly irreversible.”
Cells found in the eye’s retina may hold the key to reversing death
Dr Fatima Abbas, lead author from the University of Utah, said: ‘We were able to wake up photoreceptor cells in the human macula, which is the part of the retina responsible for our central vision and ability to to see fine detail and color. .
“In eyes obtained up to five hours after the death of an organ donor, these cells responded to bright light, colored lights, and even very faint flashes of light.”
The new research goes even further than a 2019 Yale University study that rebooted the brains of 32 decapitated pigs slaughtered four hours earlier.
‘We have succeeded in making the retinal cells talk to each other, as they do in the living eye,’ said Dr Frans Vinberg, from the University of Utah.
“This has never been achieved in the macula, and never to the extent that we have now demonstrated,” he added.
Researchers also hope the breakthrough could speed up new therapies for vision loss and improve their understanding of brain diseases.