Sunday, April 19, 2015

Dr. Robert E. Cornish Reanimating the Dead

Dr. Robert E. Cornish  
(December 21, 1903 – March 6, 1963)
By Andrew Midkiff

In the early 1930's Dr. Robert E. Cornish began experiments to bring the dead back to life. Cornish would be in total obscurity if it were not for the 1934 film, Life Returns.  Dr. Cornish was a real person, the film was based on his life. In the film Cornish can't get the financial support that he needs to develop a serum that would cause the blood of dead people or animals to start circulating thus restoring life. His son's pet dog is put to death by a vindictive dog catcher, Dr. Cornish and his team bring the pooch back to life. That's the film.

In real life  he would kill animals by asphyxiating them, leave them dead for short periods of time and then attempt to resuscitate them using an intravenous formula that he created. At the end of the film actual footage of the operation is preformed by Dr. Cornish and his staff at the Berkeley Medical Facility in Calif. on March 22, 1934. In the film he can be seen taking breaths of oxygen and blowing into the dogs mouth. Cornish is herd saying the dog feels no pain, as the animal is herd crying, obviously in pain. Survivors in this cruel experiment were brain dead and did not live long. 
Cornish attempted to revive victims of heart attack, drowning, and electrocution but with no success. His plan consisted of a Teeter board that was used to get the blood flowing and an adrenaline-based formula with anticoagulants via injection. Cornish started experimenting on animals and managed to revive two dogs (Lazarus IV and V) clinically put to death. Cornish wanted to bring back to life a man condemned to the gas chamber, but authorities refused.

Doctor Cornish was a real life mad scientist. Cornish needed a way to convince the public that his research was not only humane, but vital to humanity. The film attempts this, but in reality it makes him look insane. The only thing fact in this film is the operation. The film clip below, is the actual operation scene. The cut-away shots you see in the video are actors from the movie including the shot at the end of the boy hugging the dog.

1 comment:

  1. He was a real pioneer in the field of resuscitation. Modern resuscitation techniques were introduced in the 1960's. It employs many of the ideas pioneered by Cornish.
    Physiologically, the up and down movement of the stretcher is equivalent to chest compression. He ventilated the dogs with oxygen, blowing it from his own lungs into a mask fitted on the dog snout. It is more effective than mouth to mouth resuscitation, as taught in Basic Cardiac Life Support courses today. It is less effective than intubating the trachea. Endotracheal tubes for dogs or other animals were not available those days. He used epinephrine (adrenaline), which is the main drug used today.
    He deserves a lot of credit, and is far from being a mad scientist. Just a little ahead of his time.