On this day in 1967, James Bedford died at the age of 73. If you don’t recognise the name, that might be because Bedford is not really remembered for what he did before he died; but he is notable for what he did afterwards.

James Bedford was a psychology professor at the University of California. He was diagnosed with kidney cancer, which was incurable. Facing that enormous question of his own mortality, he began looking into options. While most people might begin planning a funeral, Bedford went in a slightly different direction, and asked for his body to be frozen by the Life Extension Society, which had been founded a couple of years earlier. The idea was that his body would be kept preserved in the state that it was when he died, so that in the future a medical procedure may become available which could revive him. This process is achieved by keeping the body in liquid nitrogen, and is known as cryonics. Bedford’s body was preserved a few hours after he died, and he subsequently became the first person to ever be cryopreserved with the intention of life extension. Today, about 250 bodies are preserved in cryostasis in the United States, and many more with standing arrangements to be preserved after their death.

While it has been shown that living cells such as blood and semen, and even plant seeds, can be kept effectively in cryostasis, the obvious problem with cryopreservation as a method of life extension is that it requires medical advancements which could bring a person back to life. This is not possible by most understandings of medical science, although a recent study found it was possible to reactivate pathways in brains after death. For this reason, cryonics is generally considered to be a pseudoscience. It may not surprise you to learn that James Bedford has not come back to life, and remains frozen to this day.

In 2016, a 14 year old girl in the UK won a legal battle to preserve her body when she died of a rare cancer, with the hope it could be cured by future medical advancements. The dispute had been fought by the girl’s own father, who said: “Even if the treatment is successful and she is brought back to life in, let’s say, 200 years, she may not find any relative and she might not remember things and she may be left in a desperate situation given that she is only 14 years old and will be in the United States of America.”  This raises further questions of whether, if it was scientifically possible to come back to life in the distant future, you would even want to. The implications of suddenly regaining consciousness after many decades or even centuries of being dead are not entirely pleasant.

One thing that will never die, however, is our commitment to bringing you brilliant new CPD. Here’s what you can look forward to this week:

Take your first steps to go green in your veterinary practice

by April Sotomayor, Sustainability Consultant for iiE and Responsible Resource Use Lead for PECT

Tue 14th January 2020, 8:00 pm

April from Investors in the Environment will present on how to understand your practice’s environmental impact and take steps towards taking positive, measurable steps on reducing your climate impact and plastics pollution. This includes a focus on embedding environmental management into a busy practice whilst demonstrating cost savings and positive engagement and action on climate change.

Dog food- Digestibility and Dilated Cardiomyopathy

by Ciara Clarke BSc Hons, BVSc Hon Colours, MRCVS

Wed 15th January 2020, 12:30 pm

To refresh, digestibility reflects a food’s ability to deliver essential nutrients to the dog who is eating it. You’d be hard pressed to find a veterinary nutritionist that says digestibility does not matter. We’ll explore ingredients, how they are processed, how this impacts nutrient digestibility and the exciting field of the microbiome and gut health.

This lunch and learn webinar has been kindly sponsored by Butternut Box.

Mental Health First Responder Training Session Two – Recognising Distress and reducing stigma

By Mike Scanlan PRD

Wed 15th January 2020, 8:00 pm

Part 2 of 4 webinars.

Working in the veterinary profession can be exciting and rewarding. However, caring for animals can be challenging, too – mentally as well as physically. It has been recognised in several studies that levels of depression, stress and anxiety are disproportionately high among veterinary professionals.

This course will deliver, 4 live sessions and is designed to support individuals or Veterinary practices looking to promote positive mental health at work. This bespoke training equip participants with a toolkit to improve their confidence and skills in addressing issues of Mental Health at work and in the wider community.

Aim of the session

For learners to gain an improved understanding of the common mental health problems that present in our colleagues. To be able to recognise the presenting symptoms and to build the confidence needed to respond helpfully and appropriately.

Course Developed by Dr Mike Scanlan

What can diagnostic anaesthesia really tell us?

by Russell Parker BVSc, MSc, DECVS, MRCVS

Wed 15th January 2020, 8:00 pm

Nerve blocks are a key part of lameness investigation and remain the gold standard for localising lameness and assessing the significance of imaging findings. However, like any diagnostic test there is the potential for false positive and negative results and it is essential that the limitations of diagnostic analgesia are recognised. Inaccurate placement of local anaesthetic may lead to false negative results, particularly if the efficacy of a block cannot be fully assessed by testing skin sensation, and natural fluctuation of a lameness may lead to false positive results. Owners should be educated on the lack of reliability of diagnostic analgesia and if in doubt blocks should be repeated. The blocking pattern should always be related to the imaging findings and if the two do not agree then consideration should be given to diffusion of local anaesthetic or inaccurate placement.