FROZEN IN TIME
Published in Vitrification.
Scientists are learning how to cryopreserve living tissues, organs, and even whole organisms, then bring them back to life
MINNEAPOLIS—The rat kidney on the operating table in front of Joseph Sushil Rao looked like it had been through hell. Which it had—a very cold one.
Normally a deep pink, this thumbnail-size organ was blanched a corpselike gray. In the past 6 hours, it had been plucked from the abdomen of a white lab rat, pumped full of a black fluid, stuck in a freezer cooled to –150°C, and zapped by a powerful magnet.
Now, in a cramped, windowless room on the 11th floor of the University of Minnesota’s (UMN’s) Malcolm Moos Health Sciences Tower, Rao lifted the kidney from a small plastic box and gently laid it inside the open abdomen of another white rat. Peering through a microscope, the transplant surgeon–in–training deftly spliced the kidney’s artery and vein into the rat’s abdominal blood vessels using a thread half the thickness of a human hair.