Cryonics in the UK

The cryonics industry offers the means to store your body and brain immediately following death. This involves vitrification rather than freezing (to avoid ice crystal formation) and then indefinite low temperature preservation: for so long as the fine structure of the brain is preserved the possibility remains for future restoration to life in an age with more advanced capabilities in medicine and nanotechnology. Cryonics is the only plausible presently available stopgap measure to prevent the vast ongoing loss of life due to aging, and it is a great horror that so far it has remained a niche industry, even as tens of millions of lives are lost to oblivion with each passing year. In a better world they could all have been saved, preserved for a wealthier technological future capable of rebuilding bodies and reversing vitrification.

A number of countries outside the US have cryonics organizations of one form or another, although the only providers offering low-temperature storage are in the US and Russia at this time. Australia might also see a provider launch in the near future, but in general people in other parts of the world should plan on moving as a part of any end of life organization. The alternative is probably going to be expensive and much less certain; moving trained staff to where they are needed and then transporting the cryopreserved patient afterwards is a good deal more complicated. Moving closer to the provider is generally advised as the most optimal course in any case, regardless of where you live: it will increase the chances of a good outcome.

The UK, like Australia, is home to organized cryonics supporters whose numbers have not yet expanded to the degree needed to launch a local provider and storage center. Given the level of regulation in the UK that would probably be more of a challenge than it is in Russia, home to KrioRus. What they can do is to form their own volunteer associations and companies to provide standby services: the early stages in the process of preparation for vitritication, or actual vitrification itself. Here is a good press piece that manages to avoid slipping into most of the lazy modes of coverage that attend any non-mainstream activity:

Why this big freeze could take us back to the future

"My wife thinks it's weird," says Tim Gibson, whose house we're in. "But I tell her it's weird not to at least try."

The group are cryonicists. They are among the 100 or so Brits who have paid to have their bodies frozen when they die so, one day, they might be brought back to life. They have arranged for their brains to be pumped with anti-freeze and their bodies to be stored in liquid nitrogen until science has advanced to a point where they can be resurrected. And today - in this pleasant Meadowhead family home - they are learning how to do the preserving.

Around 1982 Sussex care home owner Alan Sinclair set up Cryonics UK - a volunteer group where members take a pledge that when one dies the others will be on hand to immediately preserve the body and then have it shipped to America for permanent storage. Only a handful have so far made that ultimate journey. Tim, a 42-year-old father-of-two, joined the group around 1992 and took over in 2009. His Meadowhead home is now the HQ. Members meet there every three months.

Aren't members - who are charged £10-15 a month - simply throwing their money away on a one-in-a-million chance? "Could be," nods Tim. "We certainly don't promise anything. You could die in such a way that we can't preserve your body in the first place and then it's over before it starts. All we say is we will do whatever we can to preserve your body and then what happens in the future happens."

"I look at it like buying a lottery ticket," he says. "I'm pretty certain I won't win and nothing will come of it. But I'm still going to keep buying it on the off chance. What have I got to lose?"

It is, indeed, weird not to try. It is a strange thing to live in a world in which near everyone is determinedly trudging towards oblivion with no intent to do anything about it.


I'm not surprised that cryonics is not popular. And this may be obvious, but, many people have Faith that there is an afterlife, and also, that suffering in 'this world' is part of the learning experience (character-building, etc), and that it would be odd to live for hundreds of years.

It's also beyond many people's ability to imagine...including, I would think, many supporters of cryonics, to live for so long, to be preserved. It's such a mind-blowing sort of thing, Existence (without a Creator, especially), that it will take time...start with resuscitating a mammal successfully, though (a pet would be ideal), and watch people start thinking more...


Posted by: Eugene at January 12th, 2014 8:49 AM

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