A Practical Approach to Managing End of Life Timing for Cryopreservation

One of the biggest challenges inherent in organizing your own cryopreservation in the US is that all of the best, most comfortable, and most optimal ways of timing the end of your life are illegal - not just for you, but for everyone who would be involved in helping you. This makes the act of cryopreservation vastly more expensive and prone to delays that will cause extensive damage to the fine structure of the brain, and all of this stems from the interference of state employees, enforcing laws made by other state employees who are both unaccountable and uncaring. Try to do the morally right thing and end up in jail. Thus teams must be on standby for weeks or months for any given patient who is approaching the end of their life, the patient must suffer through to the bitter end, and the time from notice of death to cooled vitrification of the body is inevitably much longer than it might otherwise be.

This is why the right to self-determination in end of life choices, and the right to contract to help people enact those choices by providing goods and services, is so important for the cryonics community. But it should be important for everyone interested in enhanced human longevity: a government whose employees grant themselves the right to decide the timing of your death is a government that can also reach out to make it very hard to extend your life even if the means are available. And in fact, there is a lot of that already going on in the fact that therapies for aging cannot be approved for use in the US under the present system of regulation. That fact already goes a long way towards suppressing research and development towards that end goal. At root, this all comes back to self-ownership and self-determination: is it your life and your body? From modern government employees, the answer is largely "no."

That is what it is until the collapse comes and new polities arise from the ruins, or until the next frontier opens up (due to a dramatic fall in the cost of getting mass into orbit) and new communities can be established beyond the reach of existing governments. Until then, we are stuck with finding practical ways to get closer to our desired goals within the present system. Here, Alcor CEO Max More offers some thoughts in an unrelated thread on the Extropy-chat list:

One way that you can time your exit (and entry into the cryopreservation process) is to refuse food and water. It's not pleasant and requires determination, although some say it gets easier after the first couple of days. This is not treated as a suspicious death if you are already terminal with cancer or something else deadly.

Alcor members who expect to die soon (you are eligible for hospice care if the doctor thinks you have less than six months) can optimize their cryopreservation by relocating to hospice in Scottsdale and then refuse food and fluids. This leads to a fairly predictable decline with our standby team on hand. In this situation, the time from pronouncement to arrival at Alcor (after administering medications, restoring circulation, and starting cooling) can take less than 30 minutes.

Which is excellent advice, and something to write down for later use.

Yet this is what it comes to in our caring modern centralized societies, so caged in by laws, and supposedly all for our own good. All the truly good choices are closed to a dying person and those who care for him, leaving this one practical choice that is only good in comparison to the horrible alternatives. A moral society would be replete with services that enable the end of life to be engineered in any one of the presently available safe, rapid, and painless ways, methods that would merge well with cryopreservation to enable the best possible result in terms of quality of preservation. Yet we are clearly very far from that ideal.


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