Cryo-Preserved Student Funded by Reddit Campaign
by Brandy Cross
Cryo-Preserved humans have been the subject of fiction for years. With popular movies dating back to the 1960s and 1980s already referring to methods of cryonic preservation and resuscitation, it could be hard to believe that cryogenics would ever come to life. Or, at least not until the main reason for fictional cryogenics comes to life, interplanetary space travel. However, despite its popularity in fiction, more and more people are opting to be cryo-preserved, some in hopes of being restored to life by future generations, others simply because they are interested by the process.
What is Cryogenic Preservation?
For anyone less familiar with geek future tech terms, Cryogenics, or cryo-preservation, cryonics, or any of the variety of other names used to describe this tech, all mean one thing, which is ‘frozen’. Cryogenics is the process of freezing a person or thing in order to preserve them, hopefully while preserving intricate details such as brain waves and patterns, thus allowing the person to be resuscitated after being thawed. The theory originally developed from mammoths and even humans frozen during the ice age, many of whom were perfectly preserved. For example, Otzi the ice man was found in 1991 and is believed to be nearly 5,000 years old, while he is not perfectly preserved he is in incredibly good shape for his age. In theory, a cryo-preserved person would be remain perfectly preserved until something caused them to be thawed. Most of the time, liquid nitrogen is used for the freezing process, and only on the legally dead.
How Does Cryogenic Preservation Work?
An average cryo-preservation procedure costs between $20,000 and $200,000 and includes the cost of freezing remains, but also of storing the remains and keeping them frozen. Surprisingly, there are multiple cryogenic preservation companies including ‘Alcor’ who charge $200,000 for full body preservation or $70,000 for neural preservation (preservation of the brain). Other companies such as Cryonics Institute charge only $80,000 for fully body preservation, but charge extra for years of preservation and stand by as well as transport to their location. Persons who are frozen in either full body or neuron state are kept on ‘ice’ waiting until someone comes along to thaw them out, hopefully in the far future.
Student Earns Dying Wish of Cryogenic Preservation Through Reddit
Reddit has been famous for being a great place to earn money, but 23 year old neuroscience student Kim Suozzi used it to find the funds to grant her dying wish of cryogenic preservation. She was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in August of 2012 and announced her intentions of preservation after death. Her request was picked up by the Society for Venturism, a non-profit that advocates for cryo-preservation. Kim died on January 17th 2013 and is now stored at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona. Her dying wish granted by donations from people around the globe.
While it could be said that to some, the reason for Cryogenic preservation is nothing more than the lure of immortality, for others it is science. Cryo-preservation holds a slim if any chance of ever being used to bring people back from the dead, but what it does offer is the chance for future generations to study and examine perfectly preserved examples of their ancestors. With fewer traditions and moral obligations to the dead, the process could even be used to preserve important persons after death in a sort of ‘real life’ wax museum (imagine going to see president Obama or Irish rocker Bono at the Smithsonian).
“I’ve been interested in cryonics since long before I was even diagnosed, but I never thought that I would have to secure the finances so fast, and without a career or savings to stand on,” Kim wrote on her blog via Reddit. Kim also wrote that she didn’t fully expect to be brought back to life in the future, but that it was a better bet than ‘decomposing somewhere’.
Experts suggest that even should people eventually be brought back to life in future times, they would be too much of ‘a freak’ to live a normal happy life. Being alone, minus the things and persons that make up a full life, they would quickly become depressed and perhaps even suicidal suggests Arthur Caplan of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania to the NBC.
Is cryogenics the way to go for the future? With the high cost of preservation, the low chance of anyone actually being brought back, and the limit of space, most people should avoid cryo-preservation, but with steadily advancing technology, the process is clearly interesting, especially to terminal patients such as Kim who die way before their time. What do you think?