Experiments in the Revival of Organisms is a 1940 motion picture which documents Soviet research into the resuscitation of clinically dead organisms. It is available from the Prelinger Archives, where it is in the public domain. The British scientist J. B. S. Haldane appears in the film's introduction and narrates the film, which contains Russian text with English applied next to, or over the top of, the Russian. The operations are credited to Doctor Sergei S. Bryukhonenko.
Contents of the film Edit
The film depicts and discusses, without going into much technical detail, a series of medical experiments. First, a (canine, as with all in this film) heart is shown beating isolated from a body, with four tubes connected.
It then shows a lung in a tray, operated by bellows, oxygenating blood.
Following the lung scene we are shown the operation of a primitive heart-lung machine, the autojektor (or autojector), composed of a pair of diaphragm linear pumps and what appears to be an oxygen bubble chamber. We then see it is supplying a canine head with oxygenated blood. The head is shown to respond to external stimuli, but the film does not show the arterial and venal connections to the head.
Finally, a dog is brought to clinical death (mostly via a graphical plot of lung and heart activity) by draining all blood from it, left for ten minutes, then connected to the heart-lung machine described earlier. After several minutes, the heart fibrillates, then restarts a normal rhythm. Respiration likewise resumes, the machine is removed and the dog is shown to continue living a healthy life.
Fact or fiction?Edit
Since its Prelinger Archives release, the film has provoked much controversy. Ken Smith, author of Mental Hygiene: Classroom Films 1945 - 1970, believes the film is fake. He mentions, among other things, that the decapitated dog scene shown in the film could have been produced with simple special effects. Smith cites only his reaction to the film as evidence. Others are skeptical of J. B. S. Haldane's ties to the Communist party; Template:Fact they propose that the film was produced as Soviet propaganda.
However, while the film could have been re-staged for the camera, it almost certainly depicts a series of real experiments. Bryukhonenko's work with canine circulation seems obscure today, but at the time was well publicized; Template:Fact his decapitation experiment was even remarked upon by George Bernard Shaw. Bryukhonenko's procedures are attested to in numerous books and medical papers, with some sources providing detailed technical information on the operations shown in the film. Template:Fact These texts also shed light on failures not mentioned in the film. For example, the severed heads survived only minutes in artificial circulation, while the resuscitated dogs often died after a few days Template:Fact while the film says the severed heads lived for hours and the resuscitated dogs lived for years.
There are also certain anatomical issues they were ignored such as the fact draining blood from the circulatory system causes the vessels to collapse which would make reintroduction of blood as depicted in the film difficult if not impossible. Template:Fact Also the procedure with severed head only mentioned oxygenated blood being fed back into the severed head. Neural cells require other components besides just oxygen to survive and function properly for anything but the briefest time. It seems likely that while the experiments were not faked in their entirety the film itself was staged and the achievements exaggerated. Template:Fact
Bryukhonenko's research was vital to the development of open-heart procedures in Russia. He was one of the leaders of the Research Institute of Experimental Surgery, where Professor A.A. Vishnevsky performed the first Soviet open-heart operation in 1957. Template:Fact Bryukhonenko developed a new version of the autojektor (for use on humans) in the same year; it can be seen today on display at the Museum of Cardiovascular Surgery at the Scientific Center of Cardiovascular Surgery in Russia. Bryukhonenko was awarded the prestigious Lenin Prize posthumously. Template:Fact
- The film on the Internet Archive
- Time Magazine reports on the film's premiere
- The Autojektor on display at the Scientific Center of Cardiovascular Surgery (in Russian) (link defunct as of January 8th, 2008)
- A medical paper on Bryukhonenko's work (in Russian, requires PubMed access)
- Bryukhonenko excerpt from "The Golden Book of Russia. The Year 2000"
- The video, on Google video.
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