Alcor Cryopreservation Case Summaries

The details of organizing the final few days or hours of your transition from alive-but-fading to the low temperature preservation of your body and mind (stored in the fine structure of your brain) are not much dwelled upon, but they are very important. The step, taken years earlier, where you arranged with a cryonics provider to be cryopreserved on clinical death is not the crucial part of the process: you were active and healthy enough to see it through, it could always be redone if there were issues, and you had plenty of time.

No, the critical point is the process of dying and being preserved. The laws surrounding end of life matters - as in most areas of law these days - put you at a great disadvantage. You cannot choose the time of your death in most jurisdictions and you will have to go to some lengths to prevent interference by employees of the state (who might try to claim the body to conduct an autopsy, which needless to say will ruin your chances of a good cryosuspension). If you suffer from a condition that will likely greatly damage your brain - and thus destroy your mind - before death, you will be prevented from bypassing this horror via assisted suicide followed by cryopreservation. The end of your life is an excellent example of a reach where law has run wild to trample on freedom, innovation, and common sense.

The biggest practical issue that results from this legal state of affairs is the uncertain timing. The transition from being alive to being stored in liquid nitrogen should happen as rapidly and smoothly as possible, but that requires trained personnel and equipment. In turn that requires funds, and the greater the uncertainty the more has to be spent to keep those resources on standby. Thus a great deal of the expense and opportunity for delay or slippage in the crucial final days or hours leading up to cryopreservation is in fact the result of laws that prevent assisted suicide and other forms of self-determination in one's own life and body.

Sadly we live in an era in which men are compelled to serve laws, rather than vice versa.

I notice that Alcor recently posted a couple of case summaries; if you are contemplating signing up for cryopreservation then you should take a look. They are good examples of how things tend to go when there are no serious hitches - and I'm sure you can imagine how any additional uncertainties or medical complications could greatly increase the time required on standby and thus the cost.

Case Summary A-2061:

One of our members, A-2061 suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Colorado Springs, CO. The gentleman had suffered from Parkinson's disease for many years and had 24-hour home health care. At the request of the member and the cooperation of the home health care program, Alcor had pre-positioned a mini-medical support kit with instructions for medical professionals, to administer after pronouncement. In the event of a sudden and unexpected clinical death, these important initial medications could be administered, while simultaneously cooling the body with ice. This would accomplish a key first step in the stabilization process that would provide Alcor additional time to respond to the scene while maintaining the hope for a quality cryopreservation. Since this was the exact scenario that played out, our early efforts paid off.

Case Summary A-2420:

Alcor received notice from an extended care facility that one of our members was experiencing a significant decline in health and therefore the family was in the process of changing the patient to hospice care. Alcor's deployment committee was actively involved in monitoring the situation when it was decided to have an Alcor representative at the patient's bedside to better determine when to initiate a full team response. Aaron Drake traveled to St. Louis to interact with the patient, family and medical staff. Throughout the course of the seven days on location, we continually ramped up the level of readiness as the patient's condition worsened

As you can see, one of the services provided by a cryonics group like Alcor is experience in ways to mitigate risk and uncertainty in time of death. People look at Alcor and tend to focus on the vats of liquid nitrogen, stored preservees, and physical premises, but the standby teams, talent, and experience needed to manage the cryopreservation process and its lead-in are no less important.