Cryonics is the industry and collection of technologies associated with low-temperature preservation of an individual upon death, necessarily carried out as soon as possible so as to prevent tissue damage in the brain. It is connected to research and development in forms of organ preservation associated with transplant medicine. A good cryopreservation of at least the brain ensures the best chance of future restoration with all the data of the mind intact, encoded in the fine structure of neurons and synapses: a preserved individual has all the time in the world to wait, after all. The odds of success are unknown, but infinitely better than is the case for all of the alternative options for those too old or too ill to wait for the advent of future rejuvenation therapies.
In an ideal world a good preservation would occur because it was scheduled ahead of time: a team and resources must be assembled and on the site, and this is hard and expensive to do at very short notice when there are so few qualified individuals and such a large territory to cover. This is why cryonics is strongly connected to legal issues surrounding self-determination in end of life choices, since in most countries people are forbidden to choose the time and manner of their own death, and doctors are forbidden to assist in enabling that death to be an easy one when the patient is in pain and dying, beyond the capacities of present medical technology. In that ideal world, the cryonics industry would also be large enough to ensure that first responders to medical emergencies, coroners, and other relevant individuals would as a matter of course be trained to understand and respect cryonics arrangements.
The present small size of the cryonics industry and the hostile nature of our legal systems means that we don't live in that world, unfortunately. We are not granted ownership over our own lives and bodies. Cryonics must occur as a last minute emergency effort at short notice in most cases, and the existing services and regulatory bodies must often be fought at the same time. Even people well connected within the cryonics community, who are well aware of the hurdles in the way, can succumb to sheer accident and as a result obtain a poor preservation with an unknown but probably large level of neural damage:
Dr. Laurence Pilgeram, a cryopreservation member of Alcor since 1991, was involved in cryonics early on. He gave a talk at the 1971 Cryonics Conference in San Francisco, California, on "Abnormal in-Vitro Oxidation and Lypogenesis Induced by Plasma in Patients with Thrombosis". Dr. Pilgeram was awarded his PhD. in Biochemistry at the University of California at Berkeley in 1953. In 1954-55 he served as an Instructor in Physiology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago. After two years, he accepted an offer to develop and head an Arteriosclerosis Research Laboratory at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. He later moved to Santa Barbara, California for a time before joining the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX to develop and head the Coagulation Laboratory there.
On April 10, Dr. Pilgeram, collapsed outside of his home of an apparent sudden cardiac arrest. Despite medical and police personnel aware of his Alcor bracelet, he was taken to the medical examiner's office in Santa Barbara, as they did not understand Alcor's process and assumed that the circumstances surrounding his death would pre-empt any possible donation directives. Since this all transpired late on a Friday evening, Alcor was not notified of the incident until the following Monday morning.
Fortunately, no autopsy was performed which at least eliminated any invasive damage but the lengthy delay led to a straight freeze as the only remaining option. The medical examiner released the body to the mortuary that Alcor uses in Buena Park, California and he was immediately covered with dry ice, per our request. Aaron Drake and Steve Graber traveled to California to perform a neuro separation in the mortuary's prep room and then returned to Arizona for continued cool down which began on April 15, 2015.