It's the sort of thing you usually only see in the movies or on medical shows on TV: a patient is clinically dead and all hope seems lost, when suddenly he (or she) is miraculously revived after an impossibly long time. Well, that scenario played itself out in Melbourne, Australia several months ago when Colin Fielder, 39, of Dandenong, Victoria was revived after being clinically dead for 40 minutes.
The reason for Fielder's amazing recovery is an experimental combination of new techniques: the use of a new automated CPR machine, called the AutoPulse, and the use of a blood-oxygen machine. As the name implies, the AutoPulse automatically performs regular chest compressions on patients in cardiac arrest. Meanwhile, the blood-oxygen machine - a device usually reserved for the operating room - maintains the blood's oxygen levels, ensuring that the brain and other vital organs continue to receive oxygen while the patient is "dead."
When Fielder suffered a heart attack in June of last year, paramedics in his ambulance gave him a choice of two Melbourne-area hospitals. As luck would have it, he chose the Alfred Hospital, which is the only hospital in Victoria currently using this new technique. After coming back from his 40 minute rendezvous with death, Fielder made a full recovery and has suffered no ill-effects.
Since his recovery he has stopped smoking and takes a much more relaxed approach to life, Fielder told the Herald Sun.
Fielder is one of three patients to have been brought revived after a long time clinically dead. One patient was brought back after 60 minutes. While the system is still in clinical trials, physicians hope to bring it to more hospitals eventually. Meanwhile, the AutoPulse machine is currently deployed in three Melbourne ambulances, though the company that produces it is working to deploy it more broadly.