This time last year he was an unassuming little laboratory dog with no name. Today Miles, a frisky 3½-year-old beagle, is a living, breathing, barking breakthrough in medical science.
Last June at the University of California at Davis, Miles survived the following chilling laboratory procedure. First, physiologist Paul Segall and his team put the dog to sleep with sodium pentothal. Next, they gave him another anesthetic and immersed him into a vat of ice water, which quickly lowered his body temperature to 68°F. At that point, he was placed on a heart-lung machine. Then Miles’s blood was drained from his jugular vein and replaced with a cooled blood substitute. (Had his blood not been removed, its cells might have grouped in tiny clumps, which could block arteries and blood vessels.)
His temperature began to drop rapidly, and at 38°F he lacked all signs of life—no heartbeat, no respiration and no brain activity. After 15 minutes of clinical death, Miles was thawed out, and his blood was put back into his body. After an hour, his body temperature was returned to normal.
Miles made a rapid recovery. “Within a few days, he was up and about,” says Segall. “The wounds from the incisions had to heal, but apart from that he was fine.” Named after Woody Allen’s character in the movie Sleeper, Miles is the first dog to be revived from a deathlike, near-frozen state without apparent harm to life or paw. According to Segall, the beagle’s 15-minute chill may one day lead to radical improvements in human surgical techniques and be helpful during deep space exploration.
Miles now leads a delightfully dull domestic existence in Berkeley, Calif. with Segall and his lab partner, Harold Waits. Happily, there are no more medical milestones in store for the dog. “He has done his duty to science,” says Segall. “Now Miles gets to be just a regular pet.” And the only cold part of him these days is his nose.