The small cryonics industry has developed the means of long-term low temperature preservation of tissue over the past few decades, presently using a form of vitrification that minimizes ice crystal formation. For people who will die before the advent of rejuvenation therapies, this is the only option other than the grave: a way to preserve the structure of the brain and mind until such time as more advanced medical technologies can reverse the process, remove the signs of aging, and provide a newly tissue engineered body. None of this is impossible, just challenging and a way off into the future.
Only a few cryonics providers exist, most of which are in the US. In countries without cryonics providers there are support organizations, however, to aid the process of managing cryopreservation at the end of life for the few people who choose this option:
It's a small red-brick house just like any other, lost in the suburbs of Sheffield, in central England. The only thing that sets it apart is the yellow-and-green ambulance parked on the gravel driveway - for inside that vehicle, two men and a woman are training in the craft of defeating death itself, on the presumed road to eternity. Every three months, some 15 members of the Cryonics UK association meet for a weekend around the refrigerated container that will one day be the home of their long hibernation. They have already spent thousands of pounds sterling so that, when the day comes, their bodies will be kept at very low temperature until scientific techniques will allow for them to be "brought back to life."
Like some 2,000 people around the world, the 35 British members of Cryonics UK have applied to join the quest for immortality. With a calm smile on her face, Victoria Stevens, 38, explains that she managed to convince her husband and her two children that death was not irreversible. "When we love life, there's no shame in wanting to make it last longer."
Former engineer Mike Carter shares her point of view, and has become one of the cornerstones of the association since his retirement. "I know that the chances of being resuscitated are very slim. But apart from a bit a money for my children, there's nothing to lose. But you can't win the lottery if you don't buy a ticket!"
Cryonics UK is not a service provider, but merely a cooperative of mutual aid. Its job is to take care voluntarily of transporting the frozen bodies to the United States. "Whenever one of our members is about to die, we hurry to his house with the ambulance to be there as soon as possible," explains Carter. In such cases, a handful of volunteers put the body "on standby," which will prevent it from deteriorating during the transport across the Atlantic.