Alcor Goes the Extra Mile

Cryonics is the low-temperature preservation of your body and brain as soon as possible after death. It is the only option available for people today that offers any sort of a chance at a longer life in the future, as for so long as the structures in the brain that store the data of the mind are preserved then it is possible for future technology to restore an individual to life. That restoration will not be easy and isn't possible today, but we can envisage the sort of nanodevices and repair strategies that would be needed, and a cryopreserved individual has time on his or her side. Despite its potential to save lives, cryonics remains a small and largely non-profit industry consisting of just a few primary providers and a handful of support companies. Few people indeed avail themselves of this option.

Alcor is one of the two long-standing cryonics providers present in the US and the staff there have in the past proven that they will go the extra mile for their members, striving to produce the best outcome possible even when they are presented with impossible circumstances. The last time I made this point, it was to remind people that if you want a good cryopreservation, one that follows on as close to immediately after death as possible, then don't leave things to the last minute and don't make it hard for the organizations involved to deliver.

A-2531, a neurocryopreservation member, was declared legally dead at 10:15am (MST) on Tuesday May 6, 2014 and became Alcor's 124th patient.

Shortly after 9 am local time, Alcor received a call from a member in Alabama claiming to have been shot by an intruder. After immediately calling police and medical services in the area, we stayed on the phone with him as much as he allowed. It soon became apparent that he had not been shot but was intending to shoot himself in the chest and had already taken a large dose of sleeping pills. Clearly deeply distressed emotionally, he called one or two family members to say goodbye, but still wanted Alcor to cryopreserve him. As we soon learned, hearing the police arriving, he cut off our phone call and shot himself before anyone could prevent him.

We immediately contacted an attorney to be ready to file an injunction to try to block the expected autopsy. (This is a powerful reason never to kill yourself, no matter how distressed you are, if you want to be successfully cryopreserved.) With great good fortune, the police and coroner declared the cause of death obvious, took blood samples, and quickly released our member. Two members of Alcor's response team got on a plane the same afternoon, did a field washout, circulated medications, and performed a neuro separation. The patient arrived at Alcor on Wednesday at 2:10 am. After a longer than usual perfusion for a neuro case, perfusion was completed at 7:32am.



Until someone successfully carries out the technological demonstration of freezing a mouse and then unfreezing it, there almost certainly won't be much public interest in this.

Unfortunately restoring a frozen body is probably more difficult than simply maintaining one through the SENS panel of therapies. So by the time a successful technological demonstration comes about, it may be unnecessary.

Posted by: Jim at May 20th, 2014 5:50 AM

@Jim: Vitrified, not frozen, these days. It's an important distinction. Otherwise, yes, I don't expect restoration of cryonics patients to occur in advance of an implementation of SENS. I suspect that widespread use of reversible vitrification for long-term storage of donor organs in the transplant industry may also increase public interest in cryonics; that has been on the verge of arriving for a few years now, led by groups such as 21st Century Medicine.

Posted by: Reason at May 20th, 2014 5:59 AM

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