Alcor News

Alcor News

News Blog of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation

Alcor News #50

Alcor News, April 2006
Your source for insider’s info April 2006, #50

Patients Moved
After literally years of effort, finally everything was in readiness and our patients were moved into a new, much roomier location in our building on April 19. (Actually, all but one patient, who was moved over the following morning, April 20.) A crane service handled the main details. Some half-dozen 9,000-lb Bigfoot dewars were gently hoisted by forklift and crane and deposited in their new location. This seemed a thoroughly routine task for the movers and was completed in about two hours. We are all pleased that the move was largely uneventful and our patients are safely placed in their new location (see photo). [MP]

This issue of Alcor News is coming out a bit later than planned due to a heavy work load over the past few weeks, particularly the move of our patients (see below). We thank the reader for patience and hope to be back on a regular schedule soon. [MP]

This bulletin is sent via email to anyone who requested it. Please do not reply to this message. Send comments, suggestions, or complaints to the editor, Mike Perry, (mike@alcor.org). Subscribe/unsubscribe information is at the end of this newsletter. Contents are copyright 2006 by Alcor Foundation.

Authors This Issue: Jennifer Chapman [JC], Diane Cremeens [DC], Tanya Jones [TJ], Mike Perry [MP], Sergey Sheleg [SSH], Steve Van Sickle [SVS], Website Working Group [WWG].

Cryopreservation Case
One of our members (A-1237) suffered a sudden cardiac arrest sometime during the night of Feb. 27- 28 while at his home in Ohio. He lay undiscovered until his wife checked on him at 9:30 local time on the morning of the 28th. Paramedics were called, and the Coroners office initiated an investigation. After some discussion the wife wanted to waive the autopsy. (The Coroner had a policy that any autopsy would be fully invasive.) Luckily this option was allowed and the autopsy was avoided. Toxicology samples were taken to assist in the determination of causes of death.

The patient arrived at Alcor at about 11:30 a.m. Mar. 1. With a delay of between 34 and 42 hours since arrest, there was no cryoprotection. Instead we decided to take a few moments to establish acoustic monitoring of the brain, a slight change from our previous protocol in this sort of case; cryogenic cooling then commenced. This is Alcors 74th patient.

Another case was expected soon for a new member who had signed up with terminal cancer, and discussions continued for several weeks, as we attempted to arrange the stabilization well. Unfortunately, all this planning was for naught: the member contacted us late in March to cancel the arrangements. [TJ]

Research Update
Alcor’s Chief Research Scientist, Sergey Sheleg, finished the research paper About autolysis of the CNS neurons based on research data from the research project Dynamics of hypoxic brain damage after normothermic cardiac arrest and will send it to the peer-reviewed research journal Pathology International for publication. The paper interestingly shows an absence of autolytic (self-induced) damage in the brain up to six hours after cardiac arrest at room temperature (20 C), but signs of apoptosis (cell self-destruction) appear after nine hours.

Dr. Sheleg also started work on a new research project. He will be analyzing the intracellular damage (damage within the cells) of brain tissue using electron microscopy. His analysis will compare tissues that were cryopreserved with different cryoprotectants (M22 vitrification, glycerol, and direct freezing in liquid nitrogen). In this way we can compare the quality of preservation obtained with (1) our new vitrification protocol, (2) an earlier method using glycerol, and (3) straight freezing with no cryoprotection. [SSH]

Tim Reeves Incarcerated
The sentencing hearing of Tim Reeves on March 31 was attended by Tanya Jones and Stephen Van Sickle. Convicted of embezzling some $177,000 while a bookkeeper at Alcor, Reeves must now serve 12 months in the County Jail, to be followed by 5 years of supervised probation, with restitution to be determined by a hearing in May. The judge allowed that he could participate in a work furlough program, provided he meets its qualifications. Reeves read a statement in court expressing his remorse and asking for mercy. He requested the opportunity to contact Alcor to apologize, but was directed by the Court not to contact the victims. He was immediately taken into custody to begin his sentence, though that was something of a formality as he is currently serving 60 days for a DUI conviction. [SVS]

Florida Case
Alcor has received the settlement paperwork for the long-standing case involving a Florida member who was cryopreserved in 2004. We get uncontested custody of the patient, the $100,000 cryopreservation minimum, and $77,500 of our attorney fees. This money has been deposited in our lawyers escrow account, and once we review and sign some final documents, he will be sending us a check. [SVS]

Alcor Conference Registration
Registration for Alcor’s conference on October 6-8 will begin in May. Check the Alcor website (www.alcor.org) in a few weeks to take advantage of early rates. [JC]

Alcor Expands
Alcor took possession of unit 105 of its building April 1. This unit, with minimal modification, will allow us a separate and dedicated space for storing the transport vehicle, building and stocking transport kits, building perfusion tubing packs, and mixing perfusate. All of the lab space we currently have and the old Operating Room will be used exclusively for research. This space in turn will include small and large perfusion labs, a cryobiology and biochemistry lab, and a laboratory instrument room.

This is enough work space to keep several researchers working simultaneously full time. The usefulness of this space is not just that it allows us to forego some planned construction, but it also allows us to substantially increase our capabilities. For the first time in my experience, Alcor now has adequate technical and laboratory space. [SVS]

Bulk Tank Now in Service
Alcor’s bulk tank (the tank that holds spare liquid nitrogen) needed to be repaired before moving our patients. Like other containers of cold liquids, the tank is a double-walled vessel with a vacuum between the walls for insulation. The tank was prepared and received its first fill of liquid nitrogen. Some further problems developed but these fortunately were not too difficult to fix, and the tank is now in service.

The 900-gallon tank will be important to our expanding operation and should reduce the frequency of liquid nitrogen deliveries while providing a reservoir for use, among other things, in patient cooldowns. [MP, TJ]

UK Training
Alcor held a training session in Peacehaven, England on the weekend of March 11-12. It went extremely well, with around 25 UK and German attendees. Members of both Alcor and Cryonics Institute were trained in the Alcor stabilization protocols, as well as a few non- members. We made the decision to train anyone who wished to attend so we could continue promoting the Cryonics UK team. Training covered many topics and included a full walk- through of the stabilization process with participation by a portion of the trainees.

We intend to make UK training a regular portion of our annual training schedule and will be upgrading their stabilization equipment at the first opportunity.[TJ]

Membership Statistics
On March 31, 2006, Alcor had 789 members on its Emergency Responsibility List. Six memberships were approved during this month, no memberships were reinstated, two memberships were cancelled and no members were cryopreserved. Overall, there was a net gain of four members this month. [DC]

Next Board Meeting
The next Board meeting is scheduled for Saturday, May 6, 2006, at 11:00 AM (MST). Board meetings are typically held on the first Saturday of the month at the Alcor facility (7895 East Acoma Drive in Scottsdale, AZ). Members and the public are encouraged to attend.

Employment Opportunities
Have you ever thought about joining the Alcor team? We have opportunities for licensed Paramedics, Emergency Medical Technicians, Registered Nurses, Lab Technicians and more to join our nationwide Transport Team. Participation is on a contractual basis. You’ll be given cryonics training enabling you to participate in our patient rescue and transport cases. Licensed professionals do not have to be Alcor members to join our team. We welcome your expertise and interest. Send your resume to: employment@alcor.org

Alcor United
Alcor members have a new forum where they can meet and chat with other members. Get to know other cryonics supporters in your area and around the world by visiting Alcor United (www.alcorunited.org).

Patients Moved Well

Okay, maybe the patients themselves didn’t move so well, but the staff and the hired crane and forklift operators moved them nicely. As mentioned also in a brief Alcor United post, “no dewars were dropped, dinged, banged or otherwise harmed” in the changing of locations. The old patient care bay is holding the two single-person cool-down dewars, a -140 degree C freezer, and a metal cabinet for wrenches and gloves and such. The new patient care bay seems a lot more full now, with all the dewars nicely in a row. (We have pictures that I hope to see posted soon.)

That old care bay will now become a consolidated filing and supplies room; the old cool-down bay will become our training area; and the freezer will be decommissioned for a while, but will eventually move into the research area for exploring higher temperature patient care alternatives.

We’re extremely happy to see this step done, as it finally means we’re nearing the end of the on-going construction. Moving the patients has launched a cascade of physical tasks that must now be done. Moving boxes, people, equipment; reorganizing each space; pitching and tossing where possible…. Call me silly, but I’m excited.

Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the day. We’ve been waiting for over a year. Tomorrow we move the patients.

The construction isn’t done. As everybody already knows, we’ve been involved in a dispute with the construction company over the completion of this project. They basically abondoned it for a long while last year, during a time that we had more intense concerns than riding herd on languishing construction people. Unfortunately during that time, the construction company became over-extended and suffered serious critical personnel injury. Once we turned our attention back to that painfully-late project, it was too late to save it gracefully. Instead, it has been frustrating. (We’re still trying to finish, but it finally won’t be much longer.)

The liquid nitrogen plumbing isn’t quite done. We will not have automated fills of the dewars for at least a week after the patients move. We’ve been pulling our entire nitrogen supply off the bulk tank since it was filled last week, but we still haven’t pulled enough to replace the broken valve. Hugh, as the critical individual on this project, has decided his annual-and-only vacation at the Space Access conference is more important. We’ll have to fill the dewars manually (as they need it), and Hugh will be involved with all of them until the plumbing is complete.

If there is a critical juncture in this move, it’s in the fact that the plan involves using a crane to pick the dewars up and swing them around to the new space (lifting only a few inches off the ground). We know we can roll them and all the wheels are greased, so we just have to put them in reach of the crane. We’ll be testing the lifting lugs, and on some dewars that are more than a decade old. The patients are safely submerged in liquid nitrogen, but we’ve been boiling off the uppermost layers to reduce the weight of the units. That will reduce the load on the lugs somewhat.

We’ve never had any of these dewars fail (or fall) with patients inside; but like the delicate move from California, this move is fraught with the potential for disaster.

We believe it will be fine and that all will be well and the new space seem used after so long unfinished. But there’s that niggling doubt, that concern for defenseless things, furry or otherwise, that this could go horribly wrong.

We have tried to engineer this move for safety. Hiring professionals to do the heavy lifting, instead of rolling dewars by hand along the heavily sloped parking lot… that was for patient and staff safety. We have installed a new hoist, that will simplify the moving of patients, if a dewar should suffer a leak. We weren’t able to obtain a plasma cutter in time for the move, and that may become a time-sensitive issue if one of the dewars impacts. (We have cutting tools, of course, but they would take longer in extracting the patients than the beam would.) We do have a spare dewar and enough liquid nitrogen to fill it and the means to do so quickly.

We have also tried to engineer it for speed. We don’t want the bays to be split any longer than they have to, and we don’t want to have to do this two days in a row. The plan is good. The plan should work.

Betty Bulk Tank’s first fill

Today we took a major step in improving patient care, in that we filled our new 900-gallon bulk tank for the first time. This poor tank had been neglected for several years for several years before we spotted it on the web; it had even been exposed to the elements since before our purchase in July, 2003. When we finally rescued it in November, 2005, it had rust spots, broken valves, and a large layer of dust.

Betty cost $12k when newly-used and can hold 900 gallons. She cost more than $3k for shipping and off-loading, and $2500 for repair and restoration. When new, these tanks go for $45k, not including shipping/off-loading. We like the price, and we like the added comfort of additional nitrogen on-site.

Hugh Hixon has been working hard to restore it to operational status. He changed the vacuum valve and modified the tank to accommodate nitrogen (originally configured for oxygen); and though we’re still working on plumbing the patient care bay for the patients, we decided it was time to partially fill the tank. I won’t comment on how we watched the wrong gauge, and filled nearly-full as opposed to part-way. …

We were only certain she was ready to fill, because Hugh had been testing — and fixing — the vacuum for many weeks. The first thing he did when it landed on the doorstep was apply a vacuum gauge and pump. Checking the vacuum pressure and the quality of the insulation were the quickest way to establish how much the refurbish would cost us.

At first, the vacuum gauge read more than we would have liked. We measured over 40 microns of gas pressure. Using a vacuum pump, we tested the insulation. That +40 micron measurement was not sustained as we continued to pump. Once the reading was below 1 micron, we stopped the pump and checked to see how the pressure responded. It rose, but with ever smaller slopes. If the vacuum has risen with consistent slope, we would have known that it was a leak, even if it was a slow leak. That this slope declined in steepness indicated a different problem.

The “getter”, a chemically-reactive lining in the vacuum that resembles kitty litter, has collected too much gas over the years and was releasing those bubbles into the vacuum. With each declining slope, we were seeing improvement in the filter these tanks have. Isolating the problem to this saturated filter was a good thing. It got better.
We waited to order a fill until the getter seemed appropriately out-gassed. And we decided to test fill.

Today’s fill was not without incident. Hugh and the nitrogen-supplier technician (an all-around useful cryotech guy) were both on hand to supervise the fill. One valve needed immediate replacing. That was accomplished with supplies on-hand. We also discovered a minor problem with a threaded valve. Replacing this valve requires we drain the tank, and we’ll be filling our portable dewars for some time to come. All nitrogen level maintenance will be done off the new tank until it’s low enough to replace the damaged valve.

Before people panic, this bulk storage tank has already been measured at better-than-industry standards of holding a vacuum of 4 microns for more than 24 hours. We’ll fix the valve, and more nitrogen will be available to the patients on demand.

All told, this project has cost us $12k, +$3k for shipping and off-loading, and $2500 for repair and restoration. Restoration is still on-going, insofar as it needs a fresh coat of paint. This will be done soon, and the patients will be moved in a week; bulk tank ready or not.

Media This Month

A record number of distinct computers visited Alcor’s website in February (30,270).

Media participation this past month includes:
Zig Zag: The cryopreservation filming for this documentary took place in February as did sit-down interviews of Alcor representatives and members. The producers informed us that they intend to include Arthur Rowe in the documentary as a skeptic of cryonics.

CNN: As a result of the “Good Morning America” piece, CNN contacted Alcor about a piece for “Anderson Cooper 360” with on-air reporting by Sanjay Gupta, their medical correspondent. We expect this piece to focus on the medical aspects of cryonics and include a member interview. We will announce when to watch for it.

Scottsdale Times: Also as a result of recent coverage, a reporter interviewed Tanya Jones, took a tour of the facility, and met with David Pizer about his wealth preservation arrangements.

Nouvo (Switzerland): This is Swiss Television’s newsmagazine devoted to technology, science and communications. Alcor provided B-roll footage to show an example of a cryonic suspension facility in the US, while the rest of the report discussed cryopreservation activities in Europe.

Big Aussie Breakfast: Tanya Jones gave a 10-15 minute radio interview for this morning show.

ABC News, Barbara Walters Special: Alcor was contacted about a Barbara Walters Special to focus on how to live longer and stay younger. This piece is in the initial stages of planning.