The small and largely non-profit cryonics industry provides indefinite low-temperature storage immediately following death, so as to preserve the fine structure of neural tissue that stores the data of the mind. For so long as that data remains intact, the possibility remains for the future development of medical molecular nanotechnologies capable of restoring a preserved individual to active life. It is an unknown chance at a future life, but infinitely better than all the other alternatives for those who do not have the time to wait for the defeat of degenerative aging. It is sad and barbaric that cryonics remains on the margins of our society while near all of those who die vanish into oblivion. In a better world they could have been saved.
It is also sad and barbaric that laws in most regions of the world prevent the coordination of death and cryopreservation at a time of the patient's own choosing. Euthanasia is forbidden, leaving patients to suffer horribly in their final weeks, and ensuring that the process of cryopreservation is much more expensive and uncertain than it might otherwise be, involving standby teams and scrambling at short notice to put a complex medical procedure into action. Speed is essential in order to prevent neural damage, but the uncaring laws preventing euthanasia make that hard to do well in all circumstances. Many people understand all of this and do what they can to organize a good cryopreservation over months and years in advance, but there are always those who do not. The cryonics organizations frequently go above and beyond, but why make their lives hard and introduce additional uncertainty and delay when you don't have to? You are the one who will suffer for it in the end.
Mariette Selkovitch, Alcor member A-2830, was pronounced clinically dead on Tuesday May 5, 2015 at 1:30 am in California. Mrs. Selkovitch, a neurocryopreservation member, became Alcor's 136th patient later the same day.
Around 1:16am on Tuesday May 5, 2015, we received an alert from Ronald Selkovitch, a 21-year member of Alcor. His wife, Mariette, had gone into cardiac arrest and resuscitation was being attempted. There was no membership paperwork for her and no funding arranged but he was insisting that we come for her. Normally, the absence of prior arrangements would rule out Alcor accepting such a case. However, on checking our records, some important details emerged. Something similar happened in 2008, when Mr. Selkovitch's 101-year old mother died, also without having any membership paperwork signed or funding arranged. Nevertheless, we accepted the case. Mr. Selkovitch followed through as promised and paid for her. His mother is still our oldest patient at time of clinical death, just short of 102 years old.
Medical Response Director, Aaron Drake, contacted Suspended Animation to put them on the alert. However, SA's Suspension Services manager said that (especially given that any team would likely arrive post-mortem) SA would not deploy without complete paperwork and agreement from the board and from Alcor's Chief Medical Advisor, Dr. Steven Harris. I called and was able to consult with a majority of directors in the middle of the night and secure agreement from everyone, along with Dr. Harris, but the shortage of time meant that it would be impossible to fulfill the conditions for SA and so Alcor deployed a team directly.
It must be stressed that the decision could easily have gone the other way, and in just about any other circumstance, would have. As it was, due to this being a third-party signup (by a member), Mr. Selkovitch was faced with the standard third-party fee (the primary purpose of which is to compensate for family and legal risks). He said he would gladly cover this if we would accept his wife's case. We were fortunate in that the sheriff said that no autopsy was needed and she would be released immediately to a mortuary (the same one where his mother was taken in 2008). The one living son of Mr. and Mrs. Selkovitch was on his way and Mr. Selkovitch said he was on the way there and would very likely sign the Relative's Affidavit (which he did). Mr. Selkovitch was diligent in that he filled out the membership paperwork that I gave Aaron to take with him. Funding followed very rapidly.
The Alcor team set out for California at 5:21 am and were able to administer and circulate medications while packing the head in ice. The team returned to Alcor with Mrs. Selkovitch at 7:38 pm. Cryoprotective perfusion was ended at 12:13 am on May 6 and cool down immediately initiated.