We’re very proud of our patient care bay, but of course we think about a future in which many thousands of patients are under our care. Turns out there are others thinking about this same future, and so you might enjoy this article on Timeship, an ambitious project intended to be a Noah’s Ark to get cryonicists to the future.
You’ve seen our reports on memory retention after cryopreservation of C. elegans, but now we’re seeing other examples of successful cryopreservations on small, living organisms. The most recent is this report on the successful cryopreservation and thawing of zebra fish embryos. While it’s not obvious that the flash freezing process involved would be relevant on an object the size of the human brain, it’s still an interesting milestone and deserving of future study.
What is that? Win a contest, get cryopreserved? Yep, as a promotion for their new show, The Orville is holding a contest where the grand prize is a lifetime membership to a certain cryonics organization that we all know, and a partial prepayment towards the preservation itself. If you’d like to enter, here’s the link. It’s reminiscent of a similar essay contest features in Omni Magazine many years ago.
There won’t be much new in this article to people who have thought about cryonics a lot. However, it’s worth once every few months getting that reminder that there’s a broader world of non-cryonicists out there, and some of them, when they learn about the idea of cryonics for the first time, don’t reflexively retreat to why death is a positive, but instead open their mind and find the idea very interesting.
I’ve longed argued that just as any rational person signs up for health insurance when they become an adult, similarly any rational person should be signing up for cryonics, as just one of those sensible things that adults should do (assuming the financial means, of course). Well, for the first time an entire company agrees with that principle. Not surprisingly Numerai is a cutting edge hedge fund using AI for its data modeling.
Melanie Swan is doing a cryonics survey for members of existing cryonics organizations and supporters for an upcoming scholarly publication. It takes around 15 minutes to complete. If you are interested in taking the survey, click on the following link:
WHERE: 505 Cypress Point Drive, Mountain View, CA – the clubhouse
WHEN: 4:00 pm, Sunday, July 23rd
JOIN US: Please bring food for the potluck. We also have a sauna, hot-tub and pool here, if you are so inclined.
Robert Whitaker (A-1649), a public, neuro member, was pronounced on June 3, 2017 in Columbia, SC and became Alcor’s 152nd patient on June 4, 2017.
On Saturday June 3rd at 16:25, Medical Response Director Josh Lado received a Telemed alert that Robert Whitaker was found clinically deceased at home. His personal assistant had gone out shopping and when she arrived home, she found Robert. She immediately called Alcor’s emergency line. When Josh contacted her, he directed her to immediately call 911 and report Robert’s condition. He then called Alcor president Max More to discuss what could be done.
It was decided to do our best given the situation, which was to complete a field neuro cryoprotection. Working with the Lexington County Deputy Coroner and Pathologist. Josh was able to coordinate Robert being taken to the hospital morgue where the entire field neuro procedure could be done as soon as Josh and Steve Graber, Alcor’s Technical and Readiness Coordinator, arrived the following day.
Josh and Steve left Phoenix, AZ just before midnight and arrived in Columbia, SC Sunday morning. They arrived at the hospital and were able to start surgery just after 09:30 AZ time. Surgery went well and perfusion went better than expected. Good flow was established and all bags were finished at 12:50 AZ time.
Robert was placed into the neuro dry ice box shipper for immediate cool down to dry ice temperature. Additional dry ice was added that night and again in the morning before shipment. He was transported back to Scottsdale, arriving Monday morning. He was placed into the cool down dewar on Wednesday morning as cool down needed to be completed for the previous Alcor patient. Robert will continue to cool and a CT scan will be performed before he is placed in a Bigfoot dewar.
JoAnn Martin (A-1151), the wife of former Alcor Board Member Saul Kent, was pronounced on May 25, 2017 at 11:04 in Riverside, California. She is a public, whole body member.
JoAnn was initially taken by ambulance to the ER, accompanied by her nurse, around 14:30 PT on May 24th with generalized pain and shortness of breath. She was stabilized and doctors attempted to determine the cause of her symptoms, running tests, performing scans and monitoring her. Her vitals were good and she was able to talk through that evening. On May 25th at 03:45, The Chief Operating Officer of Alcor’s cryonics stabilization and transport contractor, Suspended Animation, Inc., Catherine Baldwin contacted Alcor’s Director of Medical Response, Josh Lado.
Catherine stated JoAnn was in grave condition and informed him that Suspended Animation (SA) would be starting a standby immediately at the hospital. At the hospital, JoAnn twice went into cardiac arrest and was revived twice. After a neurological evaluation, it was decided that additional resuscitation attempts would not be made if cardiac arrest occurred again. She was pronounced legally deceased following another cardiac arrest at 11:04. Stabilization was started immediately by SA. Transport was set up by Catherine by private plane to transport JoAnn directly to Scottsdale.
JoAnn arrived in Scottsdale at 14:25 and was transferred to Alcor. Surgery started at 14:46. The surgeon accessed the aorta and vena cava. Wash out was attempted with B1 solution but there was no return through the vena cava. The surgeon attempted to re-cannulate both vessels with no success. Phone calls were made to Alcor’s Chief Medical Advisor, Dr. Harris, and a consulting scientist. They made suggestions to ensure adequate suction in the venous drainage line, and open the abdomen and attempt to find a possible abdominal aortic aneurysm.
The surgeon was not able to find any tears or abnormalities in the aorta. The intestines and stomach were filled with B1 solution and were not draining. Jugular veins were accessed to see if B1 solution was making it to the brain. None was observed by the surgeon. It was decided the best course of action for this patient was to move to field neuro cryoprotection and try to perfuse the brain only. Field neuro was set up and started at 17:10. All 12 bags were flowed in and perfusion ended at 23:51.
JoAnn was moved in to the cool down box and the computer assisted cool down began. On Saturday June 3rd, she was at -80 C. She was brought out and placed into a sleeping bag and a dry ice shipping box with dry ice covering her. She was transported to a medical imaging center in North Scottsdale for CT scanning. Her head, torso, and abdomen were scanned. Once finished, she was transported back to Alcor and placed into a patient pod and lowered into a single cool down dewar. The computer assisted cool down for liquid nitrogen was started and has been completed at the time of writing.
Effectively immediately, Catherine Baldwin has stepped down as a director of Alcor and as a director of the Alcor Patient Care Trust Board.
After ten years as Chief Operating Officer of Suspended Animation, Catherine is retiring at the end of July to pursue other interests. Saul Kent will remain SA’s Chief Executive Officer, while SA’s management staff and contracted medical, scientific, and administrative professionals remain the same. Alcor’s primary contact at SA will be Sayer Johanson, Operations Manager, for day to day administration, and Ryan Levesque, Client Services and Donor Recovery Manager.
Alcor looks forward to continued cooperation with Suspended Animation and a smooth transition thanks to considerable preparation by Catherine.
Meihuei Kao, A-2998, a non-confidential whole body member, was pronounced on February 19, 2017 in Tijuana, Mexico. Meihuei became Alcor’s 150th patient on February 22, 2017.
Josh Lado, Alcor’s Medical Response Director, received a phone call from an Alcor director on Sunday, February 19, 2017. The director explained that they had received a phone call from a family attorney stating their client wanted to sign their mother up to be cryopreserved. Josh contacted the attorney and the patient’s son. Her son stated the patient was in Tijuana, Mexico getting treatment for kidney failure. The patient was not doing well and was very close to death. Josh explained that Alcor rarely accepts last-minute, third-party cases and that several criteria must be met, with final approval from the board of directors being required.
While speaking with family, Meihuei Kao passed away from kidney failure. Meihuei was immediately placed in the hospitals morgue with ice all around her to begin the cooling process. The patient was placed on dry ice on February 20th. She was transported from Tijuana to a San Diego Funeral Home. Alcor personnel transported her to Scottsdale on February 22nd. Meihuei was transferred into liquid nitrogen vapor cool down on February 24th. Cool down was completed on February 28th and Meihuei is now in long-term storage and care.
In January we celebrated the cryopreservation of the first person, James Bedford, who remains preserved at Alcor today. Several publications covered the milestone, and of course Alcor has written extensively about Bedford as well. Bedford became an Alcor patient in 1991.
Southern Cryonics is getting ready to break ground on a new cryonics facility in Australia. When completed, it would be the first storage facility not only in Australia, but in the entire southern hemisphere.
Cryonics seldom gets long pieces written about it in major media outlets, but Bloomberg has recently been paying attention. They sent a journalist to Russia to write a very comprehensive piece on KrioRus back in November. That was followed up by a cryonics themed podcast which, despite the negative title, ended up being a very thoughtful, positive discussion about cryonics and transhumanism targeted at folks less familiar with the concepts.
Obviously this blog is focused on Alcor and cryonics, but organ preservation is an important area of research that touches many of the same technologies necessary for human cryopreservation. It’s also an area that the White House has started paying attention to, and now the Pentagon is allocating $160 million to programs aimed at preserving donor organs.
Cryobiologists haven’t historically written a lot of positive pieces about cryonics, but as technology improves, that may change. See this recent piece in Cosmos Magazine. While the contents aren’t likely to be new to an Alcor member, that a lecturer working in cryopreservation at a research institution is saying it is. Those of us who believe the most important thing cryonics advocates can do is shift the Overton window get excited by articles like this.
Research continues into new techniques for preserving and thawing tissues. Recent work at the University of Minnesota suggests that there’s a way to rapidly thaw cryopreserved tissue without damage. The thawing process is considered the most dangerous part of reversible cryopreservation due to ice formation as the tissue warms towards the freezing point. Obviously more work needs to be done before we have something that is practical outside the lab. The full paper can be read here.
Scott Toth, A-1154, a non-confidential neurocryopreservation member, was pronounced on October 4, 2016 in Florida, USA. Scott became Alcor’s 149th patient on October 6, 2016.
Because he was found after clinical death and because he was a Medical Examiner’s case, no cryoprotection was possible. Fortunately, no autopsy was performed. With an unusually large storm expected to hit the area in the very near future, we raced against time to get Scott out of Florida and to Alcor before flights were grounded. We received Scott early in the evening of October 6. Temperature readings indicated that he was still cooling down to dry ice temperature. On October 7, neuroseparation was completed and cooldown to long-term storage temperature initiated. Cooling to -196 degC was completed on October 12.
We are glad to announce that at the January 14, 2017 Alcor Board meeting, Michael Anzis was invited to join the Alcor Board of Directors. This fills in the last open position on Alcor’s 9-person board. You can find a short bio on the Directors page.