The Second Cold War?

Nov 3, 2011
Outside Magazine

THOSE NUTTY RUSSIANS. Who else would try to jump-start a half-frozen body with a hypo full of EDTA—a white crystalline acid commonly used to treat lead poisoning and known around most households as good old-fashioned sodium ethylenediaminetetraacetate? Kyrill Ivanov, a researcher at St. Petersburg's Pavlov Institute of Physiology, claims he has discovered a method of resuscitating hypothermic subjects without rewarming their bodies. By injecting his patients—thus far, very pissed-off rabbits and rats, chilled in ice water—with EDTA, Ivanov managed to flush the excess calcium that builds up in cold-weakened cells and restart the shivering reflex. But Ken Zafren, a member of the board of the Wilderness Medical Society, is skeptical about EDTA's efficacy with humans. "Whenever you move important electrolytes around the body, it could have unintended consequences," he says. Still, if Ivanov's hoped-for human trials pan out, a syringe of EDTA may one day join that space blanket in your winter survival kit. Or nyet.