Scientists from the University of Maryland Medical Center are actively testing what previously was considered a pure sci-fi fantasy – suspended animation – on human patients.

Research lead Samuel Tisherman the University of Maryland Medical Center at the interview to New Scientists shared that his medical team placed “at least one patient in suspended animation”. This marks the first official experiment of that kind in medical research history.

The procedure, called Emergency preservation and resuscitation (EPR), is used when patients have less than 5% chance for survival upon arriving in hospital with acute trauma. Despite the controversial nature of such experiments, the team has received FDA approval for cases with no alternative treatment available.

By replacing all blood with cold saline, the doctors cool the temperature of the patient’s body to 10-15 degrees. At this temperature heart stops beating, all chemical reactions at the body act in slow motion, giving a team of surgeons about two hours to operate.

The researchers have not yet officially revealed how many patients have survived a suspended animation, but promised to reveal trial results but the end of 2020.

While sci-fi fantasies about suspended animation are discovering ideas of a towering spirit, like sending humans to other planets or time travelling, Tisherman insists that they are simply “trying to buy themselves more time to save lives”.