Case Summary: A-1407
On September 8, 2008, Alcor member A-1407 suffered cardiac arrest while snorkeling in Barbados and was subsequently pronounced legally dead. He was traveling with a companion who knew to contact Alcor immediately. Because of the circumstances and the local legal requirements, an autopsy was unavoidable. After some negotiation, the coroner limited the investigation to the minimum necessary to determine the cause of death (heart attack), and he did not touch the brain.
Alcor received good cooperation from a funeral director, who had once attended a seminar on cryonics. The decision was made to cool the patient to dry ice temperature in Barbados because cryoprotection would not be possible at Alcor due to the long time period of clinical death, and starting deep cooling sooner would stop further damage that time at warmer temperatures would otherwise cause. The paperwork required to transport the patient was extensive, and necessitated the police conclude their investigation. Alcor involved the local US embassy to expedite the process, and the Deputy Consul in particular was quite helpful.
The patient was air shipped via Miami, where he was removed from the plane in order to replenish the supply of dry ice. Flight schedules being what they were, the patient then spent the next night in Atlanta before finally reaching Phoenix. All told, it took nearly five days to receive the patient.
Unfortunately little dry ice remained upon arrival at Alcor, and the patient's temperature was near 0 degrees Celsius rather than the -79 degree temperature of dry ice. The patient was cooled back down toward liquid nitrogen temperature for long-term storage. A-1407 became Alcor's 84th patient.
This case led to extensive discussion and review within Alcor of procedures for shipping patients on dry ice, especially overseas, with a view toward preventing the problems of this case from recurring in the future.