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Category Archives: Cryonics
Going Underground: Cheltenham author’s book about cryonics to be used in groundbreaking scheme – Gloucestershire Live
Posted: February 25, 2017 at 3:19 pm
Eagle-eyed city commuters will have the chance to read a Cheltenham author’s book about preserving human life on Monday.
Copies of The Husband Who Refused to Die are being hidden in and around London tube stations as part of the groundbreaking Books On the Underground initiative.
Read: There’s a pub in Gloucestershire where you can buy your dog a pint
The debut novel, with its original, and topical, cryonics premise, has had a great response from readers since its launch in December, with one reviewer describing it as ‘truly a one-of-a-kind read’.
Andrea Darby, a former journalist who lives near Cheltenham, said: “I’m thrilled to be part of this fantastic initiative and hope that the commuters who find my book will enjoy reading it and pass it on.”
Cordelia Oxley, Director of Books on the Underground, said the aim was to get more people reading and sharing books. “Titles are left on seats, benches, station signs and around ticket areas, with finders often keen to share their free discoveries on social media.
“The Book Fairies are excited to be working with Andrea and are looking forward to hiding copies of her amazing book on the London Underground. It’s sure to get a big reaction!”
Read: Foo Fighters announce Glastonbury news at secret gig last night
The Husband Who Refused to Die, which Andrea describes as ‘a story of love, loss, family and friendship’ is about 40-year-old mum Carrie, whose husband Dan dies unexpectedly, just a few years after he revealed his wish to be frozen.
The narrative focuses on the difficult repercussions of this wish for Carrie and her teenage daughter, not least an intrusive media, an interfering sister-in-law and a mystery person with a serious grudge.
The book is available from Waterstones in Cheltenham and Gloucester, the Suffolk Anthology bookshop, as well as from Amazon, WHSmith and other online retailers.
Read the rest here:
Posted: February 22, 2017 at 4:13 am
New Delhi: Of late, the science of cryonics seems to have captivated the hearts of scientists and the public alike with some people now opting for cryopreservation after their deaths.
Cryonics is the practice or technique of deep-freezing the bodies of those who have died of a disease, in the hope of a future cure.
In a latest, an author from Scotland has started paying a research institute to preserve his brain cryogenically after his death.
As per reports, DJ MacLennan has been paying 50 pounds ( appriximately Rs 4,000) a month for the past decade to Alcor Institute in Arizona, USA, to preserve his brain in the hope that he can one day be brought back to life.
MacLennan, who lives on the Isle of Skye, has told the institute that when he dies he wants the team of volunteers to fill his body with anti-freezing liquid before plunging it into ice water. His body will then be wrapped in a polyethylene, submerged in alcohol and lowered into ice before being shipped to Arizona. The head will then be removed and frozen in liquid nitrogen before being stored.
According to MacLennan, if organs can be donated and aren’t wasted anymore, brains should definitely not be wasted, instead it’s the important part to store.
While the full-body procedure costs 75,000 pounds, the author from Skye, has opted for the 40,000 pounds brain freeze.
In November last year, a 14-year old girl who died of cancer became the first child to be cryogenically frozen after death in the UK.
The procedure was carried out after winning a landmark court case shortly before her death. She had written a heartbreaking letter to a judge explaining that she wanted a chance to live longer after suffering from a rare form of deadly cancer.
Posted: February 20, 2017 at 7:16 pm
On January 12, 1967, psychology professor James Bedford died due to cancer-related natural causes. Within hours, a team of scientists filled his veins with antifreeze. They packed his body in a container full of dry ice, and in so doing made Bedford the first man ever frozen alive in the name ofwell, if not science, something that aspired to be science one day: cryonics.
On December 23rd, 2009, at 4 a.m., I listened to my neighbors play Forever Young for the fortieth time in a row. Either the partygoers had either left or the DJ had died, and any attendees were either passed out or too blitzed to notice. The song played on repeat:
Forever young, I want to be Forever young.
I aged 10 years that night, while Bedfordtucked away in a fresh liquid nitrogen bath that came complementary with his 1991 inspectionremained immortal.
What is Cryonics, for Crying out Loud? Fifty years have passed since Bedford volunteered to become the first cryogenically frozen man. And while cultural depictions sporadically crop upthink Austin Powers, Futurama and yes, Mel Gibsonin Forever Youngcryonics is often thought to belong more to the realm of science fiction than science, and to put an even finer point on it, an escapist fiction that eludes actionable reality.
Yet cryonics offers grounds just as fertile for ethics as they do the imagination. Just think: people wage fierce wars about when life begins. Cryonics twists, turns and flips that argument around to become a deeper meditation on the moment that life ends.
So when does it?
When a Body Becomes a Patient The Alcor Life Extension Foundation which preserved Bedford describes cryonics as an effort to save lives by using temperatures so cold that a person beyond help by todays medicine can be preserved for decades or centuries until a future medical technology can restore that person to full health. The Foundation tellingly describes its members as patientsnot bodies. The dewars are not coffins, they are the temporary resting place for people who will one day wake up.
Michael Hendrix, neuroscientist and assistant professor of biology at McGill University, describes how the future of cryonics rests upon the promise of new technologies in neuroscience, particularly recent work in connectomicsa field that maps the connections between neurons a detailed map of neural connections could be enough to restore a persons mind, memories and personality by uploading it into a computer simulation.
In other words, cryonics claims that a cryogenically frozen person is not dead. He or she is merely on pause, similar to the way a video game character wont age while the player fiddles through the menu screen. The cycle of life rests upon the ability of scientistsand technologyto catch up to an idea born centuries before its time.
And as far as the science of resuscitation, cryonics does not actually rely upon the preservation of the entire body (as the choice of some people to have just their heads frozen, notably MLB player Ted Williams, testifies to), but upon the ability to map out the neurological connections between the brain, lift that map and recreate it in another bodypossibly a robot, possibly something scientists and dreamers havent yet conceived.
The Grounds for Debate Arguments against cryonics often hinge upon two main points. The first is that at best, the ethical implications of the procedure show a Labradors level of devotion to the promise of science. At worst, they play upon the emotions (and pocketbooks) of the bereaved survivors, who hold out false hope for the resuscitation of their loved one, possibly derailing and even deranging the cycles of the grieving process. The second rawand undeniablefact is that the technology for making a frozen person reenter society as a whole, living human being simply does not exist.
As for arguments for it? The most simple, powerful argument of all: immortality.
In 2014, the total count of cyropreserved bodies reached 250. An estimated 1,500 people total had made arrangements for cryopreservation after their legal death. The New York Times cites nonreligious white males as the main partakers, outdoing females by a ratio of three to one. As the worlds first volunteer, Bedford received a freebie, but most cyropreservation costs at least $80,000. A Russian company, KioRus, boasts the steal at $12,000 a headliterally speaking. But costs all but disappear in the face of a successful experiment. Say someone pays $80,000 now to rejoin the living 200 years later? Forget about calculating inflation differences.
No matter what side of cryonics one comes down uponand science offers arguments for botha central idea remains, both chilling and mesmerizing, depending upon the way its turned. A successful cyropreservation would entail rebirthbut into a world wholly different than the one left behind. If James Bedford came back tomorrow, could he handle the emotionalnot to mention mentaltribulations of adjusting to a world that moved on without him? Would the forever young experience drone on like the song on that December night, an individual sentenced to the eternal return of the same song, Existence?
After my own encounter with Forever YoungI certainly hope not.
Elisia Guerena is a Brooklyn based writer, who writes about tech, travel, feminism, and anything related to inner or outer space.
Head Case Scottish writer: ‘Decapitate me after death, freeze my head, and I let me live again centuries from now’ – Herald Scotland
Posted: February 19, 2017 at 11:14 am
DJ Maclennan is hoping for a good death. When the time comes, the Isle of Skye writer wants to be surrounded not just by his family, but by the emergency volunteer stand-by team from Cyronics UK.
Since 2007, he has been paying 50 a month to the Alcor Institute in the town of Scottsdale, Arizona. For that they will ‘cryopreserve’ his head (it costs significantly more to keep the whole body) in a tank of liquid nitrogen, keeping it there, the company promises on their website, for decades or centuries until a future medical technology can restore that person to full health.
All going well, within ten minutes of MacLennan breathing his last, that team, made up of enthusiastic amateurs, none of whom have professional medical training, will take control of his body. Theyll start by giving the cadaver oxygen, and chest compressions before placing it in an ice bath.
Then they administer drugs to stabilise biological systems and prevent clotting and brain damage through cell destruction. Once thats done they remove the corpse to their mortuary, cut open carotid arteries jugular veins and replace the blood with an an antifreeze solution. Within 24 hours of death, the body must have been cooled to at least -20C. Then, and only then is it ready to transport over to Americas west coast, where the head will be removed.
The problem for MacLennan is he needs the NHS and the Procurator Fiscal to let this happen, and right now that looks unlikely. Bodies in Scotland cant be released to family until theres a death certificate, and every death certificate needs a cause of death.
If that death is unexplained or sudden, then it gets reported to the Procurator Fiscal who takes over legal responsibility for the body until a cause can identified.
That often requires time or even a post-mortem, both of which make cryopreservation impossible, and the 40,000 or so MacLennan will have paid to Alcor over his lifetime would be for nothing.
Unfortunately, while we will always be sympathetic to requests by members of a family, this has to be balanced with the need for an independent and thorough investigation and a post mortem examination will sometimes still be required, the Procurator Fiscal tells the Sunday Herald.
None of Scotlands 14 health boards, or the NHS National Services Scotland, have any policy or guidelines on cryonics. Some of them are even openly hostile to the idea. NHS Western Isles said they would not facilitate volunteer medics, who may have no medical experience to operate on a dead person, regardless if this was the wish of the dead person.
The Scottish Government also has no policy, and say theyre waiting on the results of an information gathering exercise undertaken by the Human Tissue Authority, who were mobilised into action in the wake of last years high profile legal row between the parents of JS, the 14 year old dying of cancer who wanted her body to be cryopreserved.
Mr Justice Peter Jackson, who sat on that case, suggested there needed to be proper regulation of cryonic preservation in this country if it is to happen in future.
That was in part a response to fears expressed by JSs doctors over the Cryonics UK standby team. The medical staff said the volunteers were under-equipped and disorganised. The groups ambulance had broken down, and was replaced by a van.
The Human Tissue Authority will in the next few months produce two pieces of guidance, one for medical professionals and one for members of the public. Though they werent willing to tell the Sunday Herald what was in those guidelines.
Given this is a procedure thats been going on for 30 years it’s surprising that there’s no policy for it in the place in the UK, MacLennan says.
He is happy to talk about cryonics, and has written books on the process, as part of an attempt to normalise it a little bit and take the Frankenstein factor out if it.
Cryonics is potentially exponential technology, he argues. When people see the price coming down there’ll come a point when they see a benefit. The cost will be finite and the benefit will potentially be infinite, because if it works the benefits are potentially infinite.
But this is currently a niche issue. No one is sure, but it seems there are around 100 people in the UK who have opted for cryopreservation.
In Scotland, the NHS and the Procurator Fiscal have yet to deal with any cases of Cryonics.
Professor Clive Coen from Kings College London believes there should be a ban on the marketing of cryonics, saying the idea of preserving a whole body was ridiculous and a whole brain only slightly less ridiculous.
Posted: February 12, 2017 at 7:15 am
Florida's First Body-Freezing Cryonics Facility Now Open In Miami
It's Florida's first body-freezing cryonics facility in the hopes of freezing individuals and then bringing them back to life in a few decades. Is it eternal life or science fiction? It's called Osiris, who is the Egyptian God of the afterlife, and it …
Posted: November 25, 2016 at 10:13 am
On a bright Sunday afternoon, in a colourfully decorated scout hut on the outskirts of Sheffieldin Britain, a dozen or so people are clustered around a table, on which lies a plastic human torso. It looks like the kind of prop that might be used by trainee doctors, the chest cut away to reveal its white ribcage and pink intestines.
But these are not doctors they are members of Cryonics UK, the charity that cryogenically froze a 14-year-old girl who won the right to have her body preserved after her death from cancer, and whose heartbreaking landmark court case was reported this week.
Cryonics UK claims to be the only group in Britain working in the legal but unregulated field of cryonic preservation where a person is frozen in time after their death, and then woken up at a point when scientific advances allow them to be revived and cured of whatever caused them to die. The not-for-profit organization charges CAD$25,000to freeze and transport a body to storage facilities in America or Russia.
Today, members of the group, many of whom have themselves paid to be frozen after death, are rehearsing the preservation process. They watch closely as a clear solution is pumped through plastic tubes snaking around the torso a biological version of antifreeze which prevents the bodys cells from shattering when its core temperature is lowered.
The 14-year-old, known only as JS, was the tenth Briton to undergo the procedure, and the first British child. Her mother had supported her wish to be cryogenically frozen, but her father had opposed it, and so the girl had asked a High Court judge to intervene. In a letter to Justice Peter Jackson, she wrote: I dont want to die but I know I am going toI want to live and live longer I want to have this chance. She learned that the judge had granted her wish shortly before her death in a London hospital on October 17. With money raised by her maternal grandparents, the girl made arrangements with the Cryonics Institute, a cryopreservation company based in Michigan; Cryonics UK prepared her body and arranged for it to be flown there.
Interest in cryo-preservation is growing. Across the world, around 2,000 people are thought to be signed up for cryonic preservation, with about 200 already frozen after death.
A majority are from the scientific community, says Marji Klima, of Alcor, another cryopreservation company in the U.S. Many people understand the direction science is heading.
In Sheffield, Mike Carter, a 71-year-old retired geotechnical engineer who has paid $120,000 from his savings to have his head preserved after he dies. (Many cryonicists choose this option, the idea being that the brain contains all the vital matter, and in the future can be attached to a new body or robot.)
He says he found the idea of death upsetting from an early age. I decided that, despite what was drummed into me at school, there was no evidence for either a god or an immortal soul. My conclusion was therefore that death was followed by oblivion.
In 2008, after reading about cryogenics in a science fiction novel, he looked online, almost on a whim, to see whether it was actually possible, and discovered the existence of storage facilities abroad and the Cryonics UK community.
While accepting that the idea of reanimation was something of a long shot, he says my mantra was, and still is, what have I got to lose?
He says his two daughters are all right with it, and while his wife is not happy, I support her in her views and shes agreed to support me in mine.
David Farlow, a thoughtful 34-year-old property manager from west London, is also at the rehearsal.
Having come across the concept as a computer science student at Kings College London, Farlow went to his first training session in 2008, which became the first of many. His friends, he says, understand once hes explained the idea. His family does not share his interest, but he wishes they did. If I was going to live longer, then Id like my family members to be there, he says.
Critics of cryopreservation say, variously, that it offers false hope in a process not backed by science, that it is unethical to live longer than ones natural lifespan, and even, perhaps prematurely, that it could exacerbate the worlds overpopulation problem.
Aside from the many scientific hurdles that would need to be overcome to resurrect frozen humans, the cost of preservation is prohibitively high, with the most expensive packages at $270,000.
However, life insurance packages are now available which allow you to spread the costs out, an option that Farlow is considering. An office in Devon called Unusual Risks Mortgage & Insurance Services helps would-be cryonicists route their life insurance to cryogenics securing, as it were, a chance at a second life in exchange for down-payments of $75 amonth.
Its like being on a plane, and they announce that its going to crash, and theres nothing you can do.They offer you a parachute, and theres only a small chance of it working, but would you take it?
In the U.S., Alcor and the Cryonics Institute employ trained personnel to carry out the urgent preparatory work on a body before it is placed in storage. In the UK, this is done by volunteers who undergo training in sessions. The organization describes itself as a mutual assistance group and some who sign up to be frozen also train to be volunteers. Cryonics UK says it has around 50 members on call to help with preservation. Their first job is to administer chest compressions, as soon as is feasible from the moment of death, to supply blood and oxygen to the brain to prevent the cells from deteriorating. The body is then packed in ice and transported to a cryonics facility where an embalmer makes an incision in the corpses neck and gradually replaces the blood with a cryoprotectant solution, using a cannula like the one on the table in the scout hut, with a cryoprotectant solution.
Finally, sealed in a well-insulated box packed with dry ice, the body is flown to the storage facility where it is preserved in liquid nitrogen at -196 C.
Mike Carter has now helped to carry out three cryopreservations, including one on a terminally ill person he had got to know through Cryonics UK.
The first time, he says, he was nervous as hell but in the end it went pretty well. Once, he says, there was a situation where the family members were uneasy with it, but they still supported it because they knew it was the persons wishes.
Scientists remain sceptical of the practice of cryonics. This week, it was revealed that doctors at the hospital where JS was cared for felt deep unease about her decision and accused Cryonics UK of being underequipped and disorganized in its handling of her body after she died last month.
In a statement, Cryonics UK said: We always seek to negotiate before acting and our protocols were carried out with the permission of the hospital. A successful outcome was achieved as a result of the determination of the family and their legal representation and the resourcefulness of Cryonics UK.
It said that better regulations of cryopreservation would be likely to lead to more people signing up.
For many, the notion of bringing humans back to life remains very much the stuff of science fiction. But the extraordinary case of JS sheds light on the small, but growing handful of people willing to take a leap of faith.
Its like being on a plane, and they announce that its going to crash, and theres nothing you can do, says Peter Farlow. They offer you a parachute, and theres only a small chance of it working, but would you take it?
See the rest here:
Posted: at 10:13 am
The girl — who can’t be identified and is referred to only as “JS” — suffered from a rare form of cancer and expressed a hope to be brought back to life and cured in the future.
She died on October 17 but details of the case at London’s High Court were not allowed to be made public until now.
In his judgment, obtained by CNN, Mr. Justice Peter Jackson said the girl had expressed her desire to be cryogenically frozen.
She wrote: “I have been asked to explain why I want this unusual thing done. I’m only 14 years old and I don’t want to die, but I know I am going to. I think being cryo-preserved gives me a chance to be cured and woken up, even in hundreds of years’ time. I don’t want to be buried underground.
“I want to live and live longer and I think that in the future they might find a cure for my cancer and wake me up. I want to have this chance. This is my wish.”
According to the judgment, the girl’s parents are divorced and their relationship is “very bad.” Her mother was supportive of her wish, but her father — who had not seen his daughter face-to-face since 2008 — initially was not.
At the start of proceedings, the teenager’s father, who also has cancer, wrote: “Even if the treatment is successful and [JS] 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.”
However, he subsequently changed his position, saying he “respected the decisions” his daughter was making.
The judge said this fluctuation in his views was understandable, adding, “No other parent has ever been put in his position.”
But he emphasized he was not ruling on the science of cryonics, but rather on the dispute between her parents over who was responsible for the arrangements after her death.
The judge also said there was no doubt the girl — described as “a bright, intelligent young person who is able to articulate strongly held views on her current situation” — had the capacity to start legal action.
“Over recent months, JS has used the internet to investigate cryonics: the freezing of a dead body in the hope that resuscitation and a cure may be possible in the distant future,” he said.
“The scientific theory underlying cryonics is speculative and controversial, and there is considerable debate about its ethical implications.
“On the other hand, cryopreservation, the preservation of cells and tissues by freezing, is now a well-known process in certain branches of medicine, for example the preservation of sperm and embryos as part of fertility treatment.
“Cryonics is cryopreservation taken to its extreme.”
The judge ruled in favor of her mother and said the girl had died peacefully, knowing her wishes had been met.
But he cautioned that hospital officials had had “real misgivings” about the way the process was handled on the day she died.
The girl’s mother was said to have been preoccupied with the arrangements after her death, rather than being fully available to her child, he said, and the voluntary organization which helped get her body ready for preservation was disorganized.
The case was said by the judge to be the only one of its kind to have come before the courts in England and Wales, and probably anywhere else. “It is an example of the new questions that science poses to the law, perhaps most of all to family law,” he added.
The cost of the procedure in the United States — which the judge said was about 37,000 ($46,000) — is being met by her maternal grandparents, he said, although the family is not well off. They chose the most basic arrangement, he said, which “simply involves the freezing of the body in perpetuity.”
The Cryonics Institute, which is based in Michigan, said the body of a 14-year-old girl from London arrived at its facility, packed in dry ice, on October 25, about eight days after her death.
“The patient was then placed in the computer controlled cooling chamber to cool to liquid nitrogen temperature,” a statement posted on its website said.
“The human cooling program from dry ice was selected and the time needed to cool the patient to liquid nitrogen temperature was 24 hours. The patient was then placed in a cryostat for longterm cryonic storage.”
The Cryonics Institute said the girl was its 143rd patient.
Its website explains the process as “a technique intended to hopefully save lives and greatly extend lifespan. It involves cooling legally-dead people to liquid nitrogen temperature where physical decay essentially stops, in the hope that future scientific procedures will someday revive them and restore them to youth and good health.
“A person held in such a state is said to be a ‘cryopreserved patient’, because we do not regard the cryopreserved person as being inevitably ‘dead’.”
However, some skepticism remains about the science of cryogenics.
Barry Fuller, professor in Surgical Science and Low Temperature Medicine at University College London, said that cryopreservation “has many useful applications in day to day medicine, such as cryopreserving blood cells, sperm and embryos.”
But, he said, “cryopreservation has not yet been successfully applied to large structures, such as human kidneys for transplantation, because we have not yet adequately been able to produce suitable equipment to optimize all the steps.
“This is why we have to say that at the moment we have no objective evidence that a whole human body can survive cryopreservation with cells which will function after rearming.”
CNN’s Simon Cullen and Meera Senthilingam contributed to this report.
Posted: September 22, 2016 at 7:51 pm
by Ben Best
Robert Ettinger is widely regarded as the “father of cryonics” (although he often said that he would rather be the grandson). Mr.Ettinger earned a Purple Heart in World WarII as a result of injury to his leg by an artillery shell. He subsequently became a college physics teacher after earning two Master’s Degrees from Wayne State University. (He has often been erroneously called “Doctor” and “Professor”.) Robert Ettinger was cryopreserved at the Cryonics Institute in July2011 at the age of92. See The Cryonics Institute’s 106th Patient Robert Ettinger for details.
A lifelong science fiction buff, Ettinger conceived the idea of cryonics upon reading a story called The Jameson Satellite in the July 1931 issue of Amazing Stories magazine. In 1948 Ettinger published a short story having a cryonics theme titled The Pentultimate Trump. In 1962 he self-published THE PROSPECT OF IMMORTALITY, a non-fictional book explaining in detail the methods and rationale for cryonics. He mailed the book to 200 people listed in WHO’S WHO IN AMERICA. Also in 1962, Evan Cooper independently self-published IMMORTALITY:PHYSICALLY, SCIENTIFICALLY, NOW, which is also a book advocating cryonics. In 1964 Isaac Asimov assured Doubleday that (although socially undesirable, in his opinion) cryonics is based on reasonable scientific assumptions. This allowed THE PROSPECT OF IMMORTALITY to be printed and distributed by a major publisher. The word “cryonics” had not been invented yet, but the concept was clearly established.
In December, 1963 Evan Cooper founded the world’s first cryonics organization, the Life Extension Society, intended to create a network of cryonics groups throughout the world. Cooper eventually became discouraged, however, and he dropped his cryonics-promoting activities to pursue his interest in sailing. His life was ended by being lost at sea. Cooper’s networking had not been in vain, however, because people who had become acquainted through his efforts formed cryonics organizations in northern and southern California as well as in New York.
In 1965 a New York industrial designer named Karl Werner coined the word “cryonics”. That same year Saul Kent, Curtis Henderson and Werner founded the Cryonics Society of New York. Werner soon drifted away from cryonics and became involved in Scientology, but Kent and Henderson remained devoted to cryonics. In 1966 the Cryonics Society of Michigan and the Cryonics Society of California were founded. Unlike the other two organizations, the Cryonics Society of Michigan was an educational and social group which had no intention to actually cryopreserve people and it exists today under the name Immortalist Society.
A TV repairman named Robert Nelson was the driving force behind the Cryonics Society of California. On January12, 1967 Nelson froze a psychology professor named James Bedford. Bedford was injected with multiple shots of DMSO, and a thumper was applied in an attempt to circulate the DMSO with chest compressions. Nelson recounted the story in his book WE FROZE THE FIRST MAN. Bedford’s wife and son took Bedford’s body from Nelson after six days and the family kept Dr.Bedford in cryogenic care until 1982 when he was transferred to Alcor. Of 17cryonics patients cryopreserved in the period between 1967 and 1973, only Bedford remains in liquid nitrogen.
In 1974 Curtis Henderson, who had been maintaining three cryonics patients for the Cryonics Society of New York, was told by the New York Department of Public Health that he must close down his cryonics facility immediately or be fined $1,000per day. The three cryonics patients were returned to their families.
In 1979 an attorney for relatives of one of the Cryonics Society of California patients led journalists to the Chatsworth, California cemetery where they entered the vault where the patients were being stored. None of the nine “cryonics patients” were being maintained in liquid nitrogen, and all were badly decomposed. Nelson and the funeral director in charge were both sued. The funeral director could pay (through his liability insurance), but Nelson had no money. Nelson had taken most of the patients as charity cases or on a “pay-as-you-go” basis where payments had not been continued. The Chatsworth Disaster is the greatest catastrophe in the history of cryonics.
In 1969 the Bay Area Cryonics Society(BACS) was founded by two physicians, with the assistance of others, notably Edgar Swank. BACS (which later changed its name to the American Cryonics Society) is now the cryonics organization with the longest continuous history in offering cryonics services. In 1972 Trans Time was founded as a for-profit perfusion service-provider for BACS. Both BACS and Alcor intended to store patients in New York, but in 1974 Trans Time was forced to create its own cryostorage facility due to the closure of the storage facility in New York. Until the 1980s all BACS and Alcor patients were stored in liquid nitrogen at Trans Time.
In 1977 Trans Time was contacted by a UCLA cardiothoracic surgeon and medical researcher named Jerry Leaf, who responded to an advertisement Trans Time had placed in REASON magazine. In 1978 Leaf created a company called Cryovita devoted to doing cryonics research and to providing perfusion services for both Alcor and Trans Time.
By the 1980s acrimony between Trans Time and BACS caused the organizations to disassociate. BACS was renamed the American Cryonics Society (ACS) in 1985. Jim Yount (who joined BACS in 1972 and became a Governor two years later) and Edgar Swank have been the principal activists in ACS into the 21st century.
For 26 years from the time of its inception until 1998 the President of Trans Time was Art Quaife. The name “Trans Time” was inspired by Trans World Airlines, which was then a very prominent airline. Also active in Trans Time was Paul Segall, a man who had been an active member of the Cryonics Society of New York. Segall obtained a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley, studying the life-extending effects of tryptophan deprivation. He wrote a book on life extension (which included a section on cryonics) entitled LIVING LONGER, GROWING YOUNGER. He founded a BioTech company called BioTime, which sells blood replacement products. In 2003 Segall deanimated due to an aortic hemorrhage. He was straight-frozen because his Trans Time associates didn’t think he could be perfused. The only other cryonics patients at Trans Time are two brains, which includes the brain of Luna Wilson, the murdered teenage daughter of Robert Anton Wilson. When Michael West (who is on the Alcor Scientific Advisory Board) became BioTime CEO, the company shifted its emphasis to stem cells.
Aside from Trans Time, the other four cryonics organizations in the world which are storing human patients in liquid nitrogen are the Alcor Life Extension Foundation (founded in 1972 by Fred and Linda Chamberlain), the Cryonics Institute (founded in 1976 by Robert Ettinger), KrioRus (located near Moscow in Russia, founded in 2006), and Oregon Cryonics (incorporated by former CI Director Jordan Sparks, and beginning service in May 2014).
Fred and Linda Chamberlain had been extremely active in the Cryonics Society of California until 1971 when they became distrustful of Robert Nelson because of (among other reasons) Nelson’s refusal to allow them to see where the organization’s patients were being stored. In 1972 the Chamberlains founded Alcor, named after a star in the Big Dipper used in ancient times as a test of visual acuity. Alcor’s first cryonics patient was Fred Chamberlain’s father who, in 1976, became the world’s first “neuro” (head-only) cryonics patient. (Two-thirds of Alcor patients are currently “neuros”). Trans Time provided cryostorage for Alcor until Alcor acquired its own storage capability in 1982.
After 1976 the Chamberlains encouraged others to run Alcor, beginning with a Los Angeles physician, who became Alcor President. The Chamberlains moved to Lake Tahoe, Nevada where they engaged in rental as well as property management and held annual Life Extension Festivals until 1986. They had to pay hefty legal fees to avoid being dragged into the Chatsworth lawsuits, a fact that increased their dislike of Robert Nelson. In 1997 they returned to Alcor when Fred became President and Linda was placed in charge of delivering cryonics service. Fred and Linda started two companies (Cells4Life and BioTransport) associated with Alcor, assuming responsibility for all unsecured debt of those companies. Financial disaster and an acrimonious dispute with Alcor management led to Fred and Linda leaving Alcor in 2001, filing for bankruptcy and temporarily joining the Cryonics Institute. They returned to Alcor in 2011, and Fred became an Alcor patient in 2012.
Saul Kent, one of the founders of the Cryonics Society of New York, became one of Alcor’s strongest supporters. He was a close associate of Pearson & Shaw, authors of the 1982 best-selling book LIFE EXTENSION. Pearson & Shaw were flooded with mail as a result of their many media appearances, and they gave the mail to Saul Kent. Kent used that mail to create a mailing list for a new mail-order business he created for selling supplements: the Life Extension Foundation(LEF). Millions of dollars earned from LEF have not only helped build Alcor, but have created and supported a company doing cryobiological research (21st Century Medicine), a company doing anti-ischemia research (Critical Care Research), and a company developing the means to apply the research to standby and transport cryonics procedures (Suspended Animation, Inc).
In December1987 Kent brought his terminally ill mother (Dora Kent) into the Alcor facility where she deanimated. The body (without the head) was given to the local coroner (Dora Kent was a “neuro”). The coroner issued a death certificate which gave death as due to natural causes. Barbiturate had been given to Dora Kent after legal death to slow brain metabolism. The coroner’s office did not understand that circulation was artificially restarted after legal death, which distributed the barbiturate throughout the body.
After the autopsy, the coroner’s office changed the cause of death on the death certificate to homicide. In January1988 Alcor was raided by coroner’s deputies, a SWAT team, and UCLA police. The Alcor staff was taken to the police station in handcuffs and the Alcor facility was ransacked, with computers and records being seized. The coroner’s office wanted to seize Dora Kent’s head for autopsy, but the head had been removed from the Alcor facility and taken to a location that was never disclosed. Alcor later sued for false arrest and for illegal seizures, winning both court cases. (See Dora Kent: Questions and Answers)
Growth in Alcor membership was fairly slow and linear until the mid-1980s, following which there was a sharp increase in growth. Ironically, publicity surrounding the Dora Kent case is often cited as one of the reasons for the growth acceleration. Another reason often cited is the 1986 publication of ENGINES OF CREATION, a seminal book about nanotechnology which contained an entire chapter devoted to cryonics (the possibility that nanomachines could repair freezing damage). Hypothermic dog experiments associated with cryonics were also publicized in the mid-1980s. In the late 1980s Alcor Member Dick Clair who was dying of AIDS fought in court for the legal right to practice cryonics in California (a battle that was ultimately won). But the Cryonics Institute did not experience a growth spurt until the advent of the internet in the 1990s. The American Cryonics Society does not publish membership statistics.
Robert Ettinger, Saul Kent and Mike Darwin are arguably the three individuals who had the most powerful impact on the early history of cryonics. Having experimented with the effects of cold on organisms from the time he was a child, Darwin learned of cryonics at the Indiana State Science Fair in 1968. He was able to spend summers at the Cryonics Society of New York (living with Curtis Henderson). Darwin was given the responsibility of perfusing cryonics patients at the age of 17 in recognition of his technical skills.
Born “Michael Federowicz”, Mike chose to use his high school nickname “Darwin” as a cryonics surname when he began his career as a kidney dialysis technician. He had been given his nickname as a result of being known at school for arguing for evolution, against creationism. He is widely known in cryonics as “Mike Darwin”, although his legal surname remains Federowicz.
Not long after Alcor was founded, Darwin moved to California at the invitation of Fred and Linda Chamberlain. He spent a year as the world’s first full-time dedicated cryonics researcher until funding ran out. Returning to Indiana, Darwin (along with Steve Bridge) created a new cryonics organization that accumulated considerable equipment and technical capability.
In 1981 Darwin moved back to California, largely because of his desire to work with Jerry Leaf. In 1982 the Indiana organization merged with Alcor, and in 1983 Darwin was made President of Alcor. In California Darwin, Leaf and biochemist Hugh Hixon (who has considerable engineering skill) developed a blood substitute capable of sustaining life in dogs for at least 4hours at or below 9C . Leaf and Darwin had some nasty confrontations with members of the Society for Cryobiology over that organization’s 1985 refusal to publish their research. The Society for Cryobiology adopted a bylaw that prohibited cryonicists from belonging to the organization. Mike Darwin later wrote a summary of the conflicts between cryonicists and cryobiologists under the title Cold War. Similar experiments were done by Paul Segall and his associates, which generated a great deal of favorable media exposure for cryonics.
In 1988 Carlos Mondragon replaced Mike Darwin as Alcor President because Mondragon proved to be more capable of handling the stresses of the Dora Kent case. Darwin had vast medical knowledge (especially as it applies to cryonics), and possessed exceptional technical skills. He was a prolific and lucid writer much of the material in the Alcor website library was written by Mike Darwin. Darwin worked as Alcor’s Research Director from 1988 to 1992, during which time he developed a Transport Technician course in which he trained Alcor Members in the technical skills required to deliver the initial phases of cryonics service.
For undisclosed reasons, Darwin left Alcor in 1992, much to the distress of many Alcor Members who regarded Mike Darwin as by far the person in the world most capable of delivering competent cryonics technical service. In 1993 a new cryonics organization called CryoCare Foundation was created, largely so that people could benefit from Darwin’s technical skills. Another strongly disputed matter was the proposed move of Alcor from California to Arizona (implemented in February 1994).
About50 Alcor Members left Alcor to join and form CryoCare. Darwin delivered standby, transport and perfusion services as a subcontractor to CryoCare and the American Cryonics Society (ACS). Cryostorage services were contracted to CryoCare and ACS by Paul Wakfer. Darwin’s company was called BioPreservation and Wakfer’s company was called CryoSpan. Eventually, serious personality conflicts developed between Darwin and Wakfer. In 1999 Darwin stopped providing service to CryoCare and Wakfer turned CryoSpan over to Saul Kent. Kent then refused to accept additional cryonics patients at CryoSpan, and was determined to end CryoSpan in a way that would not harm the cryonics patients being stored there.
I (Ben Best) had been CryoCare Secretary, and became President of CryoCare in 1999 in an attempt to arrange alternate service providers for CryoCare. The Cryonics Institute agreed to provide cryostorage. Various contractors were found to provide the other services, but eventually CryoCare could not be sustained. In 2003 I became President of the Cryonics Institute. I assisted with the moving of CryoSpan’s two CryoCare patients to Alcor and CryoSpan’s ten ACS patients to the Cryonics Institute. In 2012 I resigned as President of the Cryonics Institute, and began working for the Life Extension Foundation. Dennis Kowalski became the new CI President.
Mike Darwin continued to work as a researcher at Saul Kent’s company Critical Care Research (CCR) until 2001. Darwin’s most notable accomplishment at CCR was his role in developing methods to sustain dogs without neurological damage following 17minutes of warm ischemia. Undisclosed conflicts with CCR management caused Darwin to leave CCR in 2001. He worked briefly with Alcor and Suspended Animation, and later did consulting work for the Cryonics Institute. But for the most part Darwin has been distanced from cryonics organizations.
The history of the Cryonics Institute (CI) has been less tumultuous than that of Alcor. CI has had primarily two Presidents: Robert Ettinger from April1976 to September2003, and Ben Best to June2012. (Andrea Foote was briefly President in 1994, but soon became ill with ovarian cancer.) Robert Ettinger decided to build fiberglass cryostats rather than buy dewars because CI’s Detroit facility was too small for dewars. Robert Ettinger’s mother became the first patient of the Cryonics Institute when she deanimated in 1977. She was placed in dry ice for about ten years until CI began using liquid nitrogen in 1987 (the same year that Robert Ettinger’s first wife became CI’s second patient). In 1994 CI acquired the Erfurt-Runkel Building in Clinton Township (a suburb northeast of Detroit) for about $300,000. This is roughly the same amount of money as had been bequeathed to CI by CI Member Jack Erfurt (who had deanimated in 1992). Erfurt’s wife (Andrea Foote who deanimated in 1995) also bequeathed $300,000 to CI. Andy Zawacki, nephew of Connie Ettinger (wife of Robert Ettinger’s son David), built a ten-person cryostat in the new facility. Fourteen patients were moved from the old Detroit facility to the new Cryonics Institute facility. Andy Zawacki is a man of many talents. He has been a CI employee since January1985 (when he was 19years old), handling office work (mostly Member sign-ups and contracts), building maintenance and equipment fabrication, but also patient perfusion and cool-down.
Throughout most of the history of cryonics glycerol has been the cryoprotectant used to perfuse cryonics patients. Glycerol reduces, but does not eliminate, ice formation. In the late 1990s research conducted at 21st Century Medicine and at UCLA under the direction of 21st Century Medicine confirmed that ice formation in brain tissue could be completely eliminated by a judiciously chosen vitrification mixture of cryoprotectants. In 2001 Alcor began vitrification perfusion of cryonics patients with a cryoprotectant mixture called B2C, and not long thereafter adopted a better mixture called M22. At the Cryonics Institute a vitrification mixture called CI-VM-1 was developed by CI staff cryobiologist Dr.Yuri Pichugin (who was employed at CI from 2001 to 2007). The first CI cryonics patient was vitrified in 2005.
In 2002 Alcor cryopreserved baseball legend Ted Williams. Two of the Williams children attested that their father wanted to be cryopreserved, but a third child protested bitterly. Journalists at Sports Illustrated wrote a sensationalistic expose of Alcor based on information supplied to them by Alcor employee Larry Johnson, who had surreptitiously tape-recorded many conversations in the facility. The ensuing media circus led to some nasty moves by politicians to incapacitate cryonics organizations. In Arizona, state representative Bob Stump attempted to put Alcor under the control of the Funeral Board. The Arizona Funeral Board Director told the New York Times “These companies need to be regulated or deregulated out of business”. Alcor fought hard, and in 2004 the legislation was withdrawn. Alcor hired a full-time lobbyist to watch after their interests in the Arizona legislature. Although the Cryonics Institute had not been involved in the Ted Williams case, the State of Michigan placed the organization under a “Cease and Desist” order for six months, ultimately classifying and regulating the Cryonics Institute as a cemetery in 2004. In the spirit of de-regulation, the new Republican Michigan government removed the cemetary designation for CI in 2012.
In 2002 Suspended Animation, Inc(SA) was created to do research on improved delivery of cryonics services, and to provide those services to other cryonics organizations. In 2003 SA perfused a cryonics patient for the American Cryonics Society, and the patient was stored at the Cryonics Institute. Alcor has long offered standby and transport services to its Members as an integral part of Membership, but the Cryonics Institute (CI) had not done so. In 2005 the CI Board of Directors approved contracts with SA which would allow CI Members the option of receiving SA standby and transport if they so chose. Several years later, all Alcor standby cases in the continental United States outside of Arizona were handled by SA, and SA COO Catherine Baldwin became an Alcor Director. Alcor has continued to do standby and stabilization in Arizona. Any Alcor Member who is diagnosed as being terminally ill with a prognosis of less than 90 days of life will be reimbursed $10,000 for moving to a hospice in the Phoenix, Arizona area. By 2014, over160 of the roughly 550CI Members who had arrangements for cryopreservation services from CI had opted to also have Standby, Stabilization and Transport(SST) from SA.
A Norwegian ACS Member named Trygve Bauge brought his deceased grandfather to the United States and stored the body at Trans Time from 1990 to 1993. Bauge then transported his grandfather to Nederland, Colorado in dry ice with the intention of starting his own cryonics company. But Bauge was deported back to Norway and the story of his grandfather created a media circus. The town outlawed cryonics, but had to “grandfather the grandfather” who has remained there on dry ice. After a “cooling-off period” locals turned the publicity to their advantage by creating an annual Frozen Dead Guy Days festival which features coffin races, snow sculptures, etc. Many cryonicists insist that dry ice is not cold enough for long-term cryopreservation and that the Nederland festival is negative publicity for cryonics.
After several years of management turnover at Alcor, money was donated to find a lasting President. In January 2011, Max More was selected as the new President and CEO of Alcor. In July 2011 Robert Ettinger was cryopreseved at CI after a standby organized by his son and daughter-in-law. In July 2012 Ben Best ended his 9-year service as CI President and CEO by going to work for the Life Extension Foundation as Director of Research Oversight. The Life Extension Foundation is the major source of cryonics-related research, including funding for 21st Century Medicine, Suspended Animation, Inc., and Advanced Neural Biosciences, and funds many anti-aging research projects as well. Dennis Kowalski became the new CI President. Ben Best retired as CI Director in September 2014.
In January 2011 CI shipped its vitrification solution (CI-VM-1) to the United Kingdom so that European cryonics patients could be vitrified before shipping in dry ice to the United States. This procedure was applied to the wife of UK cryonicist Alan Sinclair in May 2013. In the summer of 2014 Alcor began offering this “field vitrication” service to its members in Canada and overseas.
In 2006 the first cryonics organization to offer cryonics services outside of the United States was created in Russia. KrioRus has a facility in a Moscow suburb where many cryonics patients are being stored in liquid nitrogen. In 2014 Oregon Cryonics (created by former CI Director Jordan Sparks) began providing neuro(head or brain)-only services at low cost for cryopreservation and chemical preservation.
(For details on the current status of the different cryonics organizations, see Comparing Procedures and Policies.)
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Posted: August 21, 2016 at 11:12 am
CryoCare Foundation was established in 1993 to provide state-of-the-art human cryopreservation with assistance from two separate, independent businesses: BioPreservation, which provided our remote standby, transport, perfusion, and cooldown capability, and CryoSpan, which managed the long- term maintenance of patients at liquid-nitrogen temperature.
Ultimately we hoped that growth in cryonics would encourage the formation of additional service providers. We envisaged a future in which our members would benefit as BioPreservation and CryoSpan found themselves in a free market, bidding against competitors.
Unfortunately, we overestimated the potential growth and profitability of cryonics. Also we underestimated the tendency of volunteers and enthusiasts to burn out, especially in a high-stress occupation such as remote standby work. BioPreservation opted not to renew its contract with us in 1999, and no longer provides any cryonics services. CryoSpan still exists, but its majority shareholder wants to wind down the company and transfer the patients elsewhere.
Consequently, CryoCare now finds itself without any service providers.
We received ample advance warning of this situation, and attempted to find other ways to maintain service. These attempts were unsuccessful. Consequently, in 1999 we notified our members that we could not continue to provide cryonics coverage.
While our original plans were overoptimistic, we still believe our business model is the best one for long-term stability, if cryonics ever reaches a point where it is large enough to sustain multiple competing service providers. At that time, our organizational structure and bylaws may be of some value. Until then, we encourage you to learn as much as possible about the history, theory, and practice of cryonics, and visit the web sites of other organizations that are still accepting new members at this time:
The directors and officers of CryoCare wish to express their deep appreciation to everyone who placed their trust in us, and assisted us, during the past seven years. At no time did any of our members suffer a health emergency in which we failed to respond; and our two human patients are still being cared for, with their maintenance costs fully covered for the indefinite future.
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Posted: August 14, 2016 at 7:13 pm
ALCOR MEMBERSHIP INFORMATION AND ENROLLMENT INSTRUCTIONS
For background information see also:
An Alcor member is a person who has full legal and financial arrangements in effect for cryopreservation with Alcor. (Associate membership is available for those who support Alcor’s mission and/or who are considering making cryonics arrangements in the future.) Becoming an Alcor member is easy and surprisingly affordable, if you are in good health and eligible for life insurance, which will pay for your cryopreservation. (If you are not insurable, other financial arrangements can be made. Please ask us for details.)
Our fees are provided in Schedule A of our basic contract. The contract and other sign-up documents are available in the Library section of this website so you can read them in advance.
Note: If you think you may want cryonics, but haven’t yet chosen a provider, you can help make it possible for others to sign you up for cryonics in an emergency situation by signing a Declaration of Intent. However, this document will not sign you up for cryopreservation.
To ask questions or request an information package, contact:
Diane Cremeens, Alcor Membership Department Coordinator
Phone: 1-877-GO-ALCOR (1-877-462-5267) extension 132
Outside of the United States, dial: +1 480 905 1906
Business hours are M-F 9-5 Mountain Standard Time (Arizona does not use Daylight Savings Time)
When youre ready to proceed, these are the steps that you will take.
1. Submit an application
For your convenience, you can complete and submit your application for membership right now as a PDF File. If it is more convenient you can print and mail it to us at the address on the form, or fax it to us at the fax number above. If you don’t have all of the information that the form requires, fill in what you do know and submit it to Alcor. You may write “Pending” in the appropriate section if your funding arrangements have not yet been completed. What’s most important is that you answer the questions in Section IX, entitled Decisions Concerning Your Cryopreservation, as this information is necessary to generate your membership documents.
2. Submit an application fee
There is an application fee of $90. The application fee for additional family members is $45 each. Any applicant who is still in the application process after three months from the initial application date will be charged $90 every three months for extended application fees until all membership requirements are satisfied.
3. Complete your Alcor Membership Documents
After we receive your application, we will send a set of legal documents that you must sign to confirm your understanding of cryonics, your personal preferences, and your desire for cryopreservation. Samples of these documents are in the online Alcor Library. You will need witnesses for these documents, and one of the documents must be notarized. This is for your protection. We want to be able to defend your decision against any possible legal challenge in the future, when you may not be able to speak for yourself.
4. Obtain Funding
For most people a life insurance policy is the simplest and least expensive option. If you are planning to fund your cryopreservation through other means, please contact us. Alcor also accepts cash prepayment for placement into a bank account or trust. Alcor can provide a template Revocable Cryopreservation Trust which can be used as is or customized to meet your needs. But for most people, life insurance works best.
There are two major requirements with life insurance policies:
First, the death benefit must be no less than our minimum requirement, which is currently $80,000 for neurocryopreservation members and $200,000 for whole body cryopreservation members. (If members residing in the continental U.S. and Canada prefer not to pay the $180 annual CMS fee, then the minimums are $100,000 for neurocryopreservation members and $220,000 for whole body members.) Members who choose the neurocryopreservation option will receive cryopreservation of the head and brain, in expectation that tissue regeneration will replace the body. (An additional $10,000 surcharge is applied for international applicants. There is no surcharge for residents of Canada).
Second, Alcor must be designated not only as the beneficiary of the life insurance policy, but also as its owner. This guarantees that the beneficiary cannot be changed without our knowledge, and we will be informed if the premium is unpaid. Alcor will provide a written guarantee that it will surrender its ownership status if you choose to abandon your cryonics arrangements or move to a different organization. You may use any insurance agent, but if you have a problem or you would like to deal with a cryonics insurance specialist, please see our list of insurance agents or contact our Director of Membership Services, listed above. Note that Alcor has no business arrangements with these agents and our list does not imply any endorsement by Alcor.
It is not necessary to have an insurance policy prior to entering the sign-up process. You can work on completing your membership paperwork while simultaneously arranging your funding. These typically take approximately one month each from start to finish, so doing them at the same time works best.
We look forward to hearing from you!
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