In large doses, the body's ability to change cyanide into thiocyanate is overwhelmed. Large doses of cyanide prevent cells from using oxygen and eventually these cells die. The heart, respiratory system and central nervous system are most susceptible to cyanide poisoning.

With that stated, I plan on having spies of an organization carry cyanide pills on their person. Ingestion is immediate upon blown cover, but the need for resuscitation arises after the number of personnel suicide relative to the number of personnel intake becomes imbalanced.

With the potential for whole tissue recreation, stem cells are widely known for their regenerative ability.

Mechanism for potential of modified stem cell serum : stem cells with Hydroxocobalamin, also known as vitamin B12a.

  • Intravenous introduction : begin regeneration of dead cells and treatment of cyanide poisoning.

Inhalation : bombarding the body with 100% uncontaminated oxygen post resuscitation is however required for full on recovery.

With that in mind, is this modification of stem cells sufficient for resuscitation after 'death'?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ It seems like you want a science based or reality check like answer, however you didn't add any of the corresponding tags. Do you want an actual check whether this would work or technobabble / a justification how it might work? $\endgroup$
    – Nicolai
    Nov 17, 2019 at 13:20
  • $\begingroup$ The former, modifications to biological molecules at most times have side effects, and I wanted to know if the idea would be at all feasible. Thanks for the clarification. $\endgroup$
    – user70311
    Nov 17, 2019 at 13:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Strictly speaking, death is defined as irreversible cessation of vital bodily functions. $\endgroup$
    – forest
    Nov 18, 2019 at 5:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ So while there have been a number of answers about how this isn't possible - assuming you find an alternative, there is a small issue that seems to have been missed. If you can revive someone who's swallowed one of these pills, what stops the organization they were infiltrating doing it? "We think Joe is a spy... aaand he just ate a cyanide pill, definitely a spy. Let's inject some resuscitation serum and get on with the interrogating then!" $\endgroup$
    – Azrantha
    Nov 18, 2019 at 15:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Azrantha definitely did not cover that aspect. But why make such a resuscitation serum public? I understand enemy organizations can infiltrate, and in such a case, I will have to think of something. Thanks for the highlight! $\endgroup$
    – user70311
    Nov 19, 2019 at 7:11

4 Answers 4


begin regeneration of dead cells

Woooooaaah there. Not to put too fine a point on it, but regeneration is hella complex. If you just throw stemcells into someone without some additional means of telling them where to go and what to do, they'll either do nothing useful, or they'll die, or they'll merrily create a load of cells which may or may not be what you want, where you want and might actually end up resembling a teratoma (content warning: there's some moderately unpleasant stuff at that link) only unlike a regular teratoma this will be made of healthy cells and so won't be vulnerable to conventional cancer treatment. This kind of incident has occurred with real-life stem-cell treatments which are, as often as not, dangerous and ill-advised quackery, precisely because we haven't the faintest idea how to make stem cells do what we want them to do, in vivo. Have a read up on this analysis of a stem-cell treatment incident. Spoiler: dude ended up with snot-producing cells in his spinal cord, causing neurological defects as a result of the snot putting pressure on his spine. Only surgical remediation was possible, and the end results weren't great. Fun times, I'm sure.

Of course, if you're already dead, getting turbo-cancer won't bother you very much. In fact, regardless of whether the stem-cells actually do the job you want them to do or not, they need quite a complex soup of nutrients in order to function. A dead body isn't going to be doing a whole lot of eating and metabolising, and so your stem cells will simply run out of steam before they divide very much, and then they'll die too.

Finally, even assuming you can feed your stem cells and by some miracle you can make them do the job you want them to do, and nothing else, you can't fix all the problems. You can replace brain cells, but those new cells won't have all the carefully grown network of interconnections and internal structures that were formed during growth and education and experience of the original brain and as a result you will end up with a perfectly whole human being who is slightly less intelligent and capable than a newborn baby. Probably a complete vegetable. And that's the best case. back to the drawing board with you.


There is absolutely no way to resuscitate someone who has been dead for long without basically magic-level-tech.

When a cell dies all the metabolic functions cease. They stop ion transport which alters the osmolarity balance and many cells simply rupture because they draw in water from outside the cells. The rest are choked by the accumulated waste products from the anaerobic metabolism, and breaking down of the cell machinery which are no longer processed and cleaned out. (This is why cold extends the resuscitation time, cold slows down all these chemical processes.)

These are not reversible processes unless you basically either replace every cell in the body, or somehow individually clean and repair every cell in the body. In very futuristic science fiction the magic-tech is usually nanites, which theoretically could do that repair work. But this not a modern or near future possibility.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I like the term "magic-level-tech". I'm gonna steal that one and use it myself later. $\endgroup$
    – Gloweye
    Nov 18, 2019 at 10:09

/the need for resuscitation arises after the number of personnel suicide relative to the number of personnel intake becomes imbalanced./

"Who is going to go on the mission?"

"Eh, its just you and me, boss. And my alopecia is acting up."

"Drat. Where is everyone else?"

"Killed themselves, boss. With the pills. Keeping secrets and all."

"Hm. Any way to bring them back from the dead? That Judd was a good worker."

"Judd's been dead about a month. Not sure who the freshest is. Last week, for sure."

"Is a week too long for those stem cells? The B12 ones?"

The problem with dying is that cells begin to decay. Fast. You have minutes. Maybe as long a 15 minutes if the dead person is good and cold, because they fell through the ice into a frozen lake.

I have to think that in a situation where a spy commits suicide, preserving the body is not going to be a priority of the bad guys who have backed your spy into a corner. Hmm - maybe it would be, which is a whole different scenario... But if this reanimation is an afterthought cooked up in HQ because there are too many generals and not enough privates, there are some hard truths. Or one hard truth: animal cells die fast when you ess with the oxygen supply, and if you want to save them you have to more quickly.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ "Eh, its just you and me, boss. And my alopecia is acting up." God, you killed me. Back to the drawing board for me. $\endgroup$
    – user70311
    Nov 17, 2019 at 15:02

I am unaware of any documented case of someone being truly dead and coming back through some medical process. In other words, there is a point of no return. The heart may stop beating, but the neurons are still firing. During open heart surgery, the heart stops but the brain is still working and machines keep the blood and oxygen flowing.

Cyanide poising can lead to cardiac arrest, and the brain typically goes within seconds of that (in cyanide poising - there are cases where the heart stops but the brain continues for longer). As such, it is unlikely you can be brought back from death.

Perhaps you could preserve muscle tissue and use stem cells to regrow/sustain certain organs, but that's unlikely the reason why you spies are being brought back. Once the brain goes, it's gone.

Perhaps someday we'll find a way to re-start the brain, but as of today, I am not aware of any documented case of this happening.

  • $\begingroup$ Will shock therapy now help revive the heart? If we can preserve the muscles and regenerate dead cells, until we can shock the heart to renew palpitations? $\endgroup$
    – user70311
    Nov 17, 2019 at 15:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @ChagatNahn under certain conditions, yes. The heart can't have stopped for too long, and it depends on why/how it was stopped. I don't know if the oxygen deprivation which occurs with cyanide would allow it to re-start. However, keep the body pumping blood long enough and you could do a heart transplant $\endgroup$
    – cegfault
    Nov 17, 2019 at 15:34

You must log in to answer this question.