The COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges for the practice of cryonics. Alcor remains committed to providing cryopreservation when needed. However, Alcor members should be aware of limitations during the pandemic. If you are hospitalized, cryonics personnel deployed for standby services might not be allowed to visit you inside the hospital. Electronic contact with care providers and your family will instead be relied upon for condition updates. Prompt access to begin cryonics stabilization procedures after legal death may not be possible in hospitals.
Alcor or its contractor partners will negotiate for fastest possible access to begin procedures. If you become terminally ill, home hospice care or care at a cooperating hospice facility is recommended to permit faster cryonics response than hospital care. Since the best care is possible near Alcor, Alcor will continue to financially assist terminal members with relocation to Scottsdale, Arizona.
Due to loss of service from contract surgeons during the pandemic, and due to concern about circulating large volumes of infectious fluid with potential generation of airborne droplets during mixing, Alcor will not be using its normal cryoprotectant perfusion machines during the pandemic. Alcor will instead use the procedure Field Cryoprotectant Perfusion FCP. In FCP, only the head is perfused with vitrification solution via the carotid arteries using a simplified perfusion procedure in which no fluids are recirculated. This procedure means that during the pandemic, whole body cryonics patients will be cryopreserved without receiving any chemical protection from freezing injury below the neck.
Whether FCP will be performed in the field, as its name suggests, or in Alcor’s facility will depend upon logistics and surgeon availability on a case-by-case basis. Further precautions will apply to cases known to be positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. For COVID-19 cases, initial stabilization in ice will be limited to an abbreviated list of anticoagulant and other medications circulated by several minutes of chest compressions with the head covered to prevent exhaled breath from entering the room.
These restrictions may change as personnel gain more experience doing cases with scrupulous infection control procedures, if perfusion machine design changes are made, and if normal surgical service during the pandemic can be secured. Alcor will work on all these problems at the same time that it does a comprehensive review of all infection control procedures to ensure a safe baseline of operations during a highly contagious respiratory virus pandemic. If vaccine development takes longer than expected, there will be even greater efforts to safely return to normal practices by 2021. However, these are the limitations that Alcor is currently operating under. This temporary “fall back” position is necessary for the safety and continued availability of the limited number of specialized personnel whom Alcor has available to provide cryonics care for everyone during these extraordinary times.