Alcor News

Alcor News

News Blog of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation

Northern California CryoFeast

This year’s Northern California CryoFeast will be held on Sunday, December 11, 2011, at 1:00 pm at the Halcyon Molecular facility in Redwood City, California.

About Halcyon:
Halcyon’s mission is to solve death. Currently they are pursuing inexpensive, accurate DNA sequencing as a powerful means of understanding biology, curing disease and extending health.  Their approach to sequencing involves high speed electron microscopy, synthetic chemistry, and nanomanipulation (not related to R. Merkle’s concepts). 

Halcyon Molecular is at:
505 Penobscot Dr
Redwood City, CA 94063

Event Schedule:
1 PM event starts and feasting begins
1:30 PM tour of Halcyon’s labs
2:00 PM talks start & feasting continues
Followed by informal discussion
6:00 PM event ends

If you have an idea for making cryonics work, you are welcome to present a brief but interesting 5-7 minute talk on cryonics or a related topic! There will be a projector and computer for PowerPoint presentations. Also, access will be provided for Google presentations.

Here are a few ideas:
* The search for a magical vitrification solution.
* Summary of an excellent paper in cryonics.
* Cryonics by the numbers: how many cryonicists are there?
* Cryonics as the easiest AND most under-funded of the Possible Ways of Not Dying    (uploading, bio-cures, AI being the other biggest 3)
* Summary of ‘the rabbit kidney’ results.  One kidney?   Not reproducible?
* How bad is warm ischemia really?
* Idea of how to make reversible cryonics work.
* Or just bring your questions. 

The host will give a short 5 minute talk on “Idea of how to make reversible cryonics work” but anyone is welcome to discuss this topic.

There will be pizza, fruit, and plenty of drinks but feel free to bring other dishes to share. 

If you would like to give a brief presentation send an email to:
Also to RSVP for this event, please send an email to:

Alcor’s 109th patient

Alcor member A-1546 was pronounced on Wednesday November 9, 2011. A neurocryopreservation case, he became Alcor’s 109th patient.

A-1546 had been on our watch list for a couple of years. He originally went into the hospital with a pulmonary embolism and it was discovered that he had gastric cancer. He said that a follow-up PET-CT exam showed that he was free of any problems. However, he went back into the hospital on November 3, 2011 with difficulty breathing, and was treated for pneumonia, hypotension, and tachycardia. Doctors discovered that his lungs were riddled with metastatic gastric cancer and that he had a hepatic lesion.

Alcor was alerted to the worsened situation by means of a medical alert message on November 5. The doctor estimated that A-1546 had perhaps two or three weeks remaining to live and wanted to transfer him to a hospice. The $5,000 available for moving to a Scottsdale-based hospice was mentioned; the member’s wife did not favor the idea but was otherwise cooperative. Alcor faxed written directions to the doctor for review and later spoke to the hospice director. A-1546 was being cared for by a hospice-at-home program from November 7.

At 12:55 PM on November 9, A-1546’s wife reported that he was having severe breathing difficulties. Although just a couple of days earlier, doctors had estimated that he had several more weeks, the Deployment Committee decided on November 8 that a standby was indicated. Since Aaron Drake could get there before Suspended Animation, he left Phoenix at 10:33 AM to fly to Washington (state) with a mini-med kit. A-1546 declined even faster than expected, so that Aaron arrived just an hour and a half before clinical death (which was around 5:30 PM PST). The SA deployment, which wouldn’t be possible until the next day, was canceled. Aaron dealt with the situation on his own, although SA handled arrangements with the mortuary.

A-1546 was delivered to Alcor at 10:44 AM on November 10, with a pharyngeal temperature of about 6C and no sign of clotting. The time from arrest to on the pump was 17 hours, 52 minutes. Good perfusate flow was observed, with even perfusion of both hemispheres and even skin coloration. Cryoprotection was completed at 4:31 PM MST.

CEO Report

The never-ending quest for cost reductions continues. A review of Alcor’s utility bills and an examination of the roof space made it clear that thousands of dollars per year have been avoidably incurred in the form of unnecessarily high air conditioning bills. We have asked for bids from three companies and will choose one in the coming week to improve insulation and install radiant barriers. Judging by the remarkable escalation in billing during the hotter months (in some units of the building more than others), the annual savings should make this investment pay off in a pleasingly short time.We are still working on reducing liquid nitrogen bill, to the benefit of the Patient Care Trust. Despite overcharging us for years, our vendor is trying to hold us to the contract, which would mean being locked in until 2013. We are looking into either legal advice or minimizing purchases while pricing alternatives. 

We have also reduced the size of the staff by one. This is again in pursuit of maintaining a balanced budget. We wish former equipment fabricator Randal Fry well, and thank him for his years of work and attention to detail.

One of my concerns has been to improve Alcor’s security. It was clear that the existing (and quite antiquated) security camera system was ineffective. Not only is its coverage severely limited, its output was rarely observed. I put Steve Graber in charge of looking into a new system. Happily, prices have dropped dramatically since the existing system was purchased. The new system will provide vastly better coverage, including tilt and zoom viewing, constant recording, and output viewable (and cameras controllable) from the desktop.

The project to greatly improve Alcor’s ability to respond to members in England and other parts of Europe (and, later, in Australia and other parts of the world) and to ensure high quality standby, stabilization, and transport capabilities, including vitrification, is proceeding. I have been talking by Skype and email with a number of active cryonicists in Europe who are helping to gather information about existing capabilities and possible cooperative arrangements. At the same time, we are figuring out what equipment and supplies we would need to provide, who would house them, and who would use them (if Alcor were unable to send a team across the Atlantic in time).

On the communications front, Barry Aarons is helping us deploy the Alcor Speakers’ Bureau to give talks to organizations in the area. A few weeks ago, we started this effort modestly with me giving a talk to the Midtown Lion’s Club. The goal is to build a reputation and have a voice in the influential local business groups.

Finally, I’d like to note that we need to find a way to encourage our members to actually read both Cryonics magazine and the Alcor News emails and blog posts. We have already discussed the evidence that a substantial number of members are not reading the magazine. I have seen further evidence in the number of emails I am still receiving from members addressed to Jennifer Chapman.

— Max More

Research and Development

New O.R. Table – 80L H20 Cooldown Test with Blanket

Based on our findings last month that the mylar cooldown blanket significantly reduced the LN2 usage of our automated perfusion and cooldown table with an empty patient pod, Steve Graber decided to conduct a more rigorous cooldown test utilizing four 20L water bladders in the pod cavity and a target cooling temperature of -80C. Note that this test was initiated with H2O at room temperature and is in no way intended to accurately convey an actual patient cooldown scenario. Steve filled all four bladders with room temperature H2O and placed them into the table. Each bladder weighed approximately 20Kg. He inserted thermocouples into the head and leg bladders via their fill tubes and located the probes approximately within the center of each bladder. The torso area comprised two stacked bladders with a single thermocouple probe sandwiched between them.

The table was connected to the Cooldown computer system and the initialization file was modified to perform only cooldown functions. The test was started with both atmospheric and cold stages set to exactly -80C and the mylar blanket in place and was cooled sequentially with two LR-40 dewars. The data collection continued for an additional day to record the warmup segment. A quick review of the test data showed that the table was not cooling evenly from end to end and needed some tuning to correct this. For this reason the table was designed to allow tuning corrections.

The photo above displays the table at hour number 5 running at -80C. The interior is LED lighting.

Readiness and Transport Report

Standby and Stabilizations
An Alcor member in the New York area was placed on a ventilator following a recent serious medical event. Catherine Baldwin of Suspended Animation (SA) traveled to the area to establish a relationship with the medical facility and mortuary in the event stabilization was needed. Although the member’s health has temporarily improved it was decided that a full standby was not warranted, she continues to struggle with her illness and may eventually need our services.

Alcor received emergency notification that a member in the St. Petersburg, Florida area had been rushed to the hospital and was diagnosed with a massive intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke due to a ruptured brain aneurysm. Suspended Animation was sent to the hospital and began to prepare for a probable suspension. Through medical imaging, physicians determined the individual’s brain damage was so extensive they declared him brain-dead. After the family withdrew life support, SA performed field stabilization and the patient was shipped as an anatomical donation on dry ice to Alcor.

Two international emergency calls were received this past month from non-Alcor members to inquire about last-minute cryopreservation – one from Beijing, China and the other from Bucharest, Romania. Communication problems, due to language barriers and time zone differences, impeded our ability to effectively evaluate the legitimacy of the Chinese enquiry and the individual in question passed away before any serious consideration could be made. Communication surrounding the Romanian individual is being spearheaded by the country’s National TV and the motives of the agency have not been revealed. We are awaiting additional information before taking any further action.

Administrative Report

Membership Statistics
Alcor had 951 members on its Emergency Responsibility List. Six memberships were approved during the month of October, one membership was reinstated, two memberships were cancelled and one member was cryopreserved. Overall, there was a net gain of four members in October.

Applicant Statistics
Alcor had 52 applicants for membership. Four new applicants were added, six applicants were converted to members and no applicants were cancelled resulting in net a loss of two applicants in October.

Information Packet Statistics
Alcor received 99 info pack requests in October. Twelve were handed out during facility tours or from special request. The average total of 106 info packs sent per month in 2011 compares to 199 in 2010. The full Information Packet is now available online.

Cryonics Magazine – 4th Quarter 2011 Out Now!

Alcor is pleased to announce that the 4th Quarter 2011 Cryonics Magazine is now available for viewing, purchasing and downloading. Just because we no longer mail out physical copies of Cryonics magazine (except by special arrangement), you shouldn’t miss out on what’s going on at Alcor and in cryonics.

The 2011 4th quarter issue of Cryonics magazine is dedicated to the “father of cryonics,” Robert Ettinger, who was cryopreserved on July 23, 2011. Alcor staff member Mike Perry contributes an historical piece on Ettinger.

Mark Plus and Charles Platt write about Ettinger’s influence on contemporary cryonics, futurism, and the cryobiology community. Cryonics editor Aschwin de Wolf compiled Robert Ettinger’s mature thoughts on the feasibility of ‘mind uploading’ and situates his outlook in a broader philosophical context.

This issue also features a detailed article by the Alcor Board of Directors and Management about member underfunding and its associated challenges for Alcor’s long-term financial health. “We urge all members to read this and tell us their thoughts on the proposals in the article.” Alcor member, and prolific science fiction writer, Gregory Benford is featured in this issue’s member profile.

Cryonics magazine is also available as a paper magazine. Individual issues cost $9.95 plus shipping.  They can be ordered at MagCloud.  A subscription to the paper edition of Cryonics magazine is also available. If you live in the United States, a subscription for one year costs $39, two years $69, three years $99 (including shipping). If you live in another country, a subscription for one year costs $99, two years $179, three years $239 (including shipping). Start your subscriptions to the paper edition TODAY!

Alcor’s 108th patient

Alcor member A-1088, Dennis Ross, was pronounced legally dead on Sunday October 30, 2011. A neurocryopreservation, Mr. Ross became Alcor’s 108th patient.

Alcor received emergency notification that a member in the St. Petersburg, Florida area had been rushed to the hospital on Friday, October 28th and was diagnosed with a massive intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke due to a ruptured brain aneurysm. Suspended Animation (SA) went to the hospital and began to prepare for a probable cryonics case.

Through medical imaging on October 30, physicians determined the individual’s brain damage was so extensive they declared him brain-dead. After the family decided to withdraw life support, SA performed field stabilization and attempted washout; however their success was limited due to the compromised blood flow of the brain. SA completed a neuroseparation before shipping the anatomical donation on dry ice to Alcor.

SA reports tremendous cooperation from the medical center that was caring for him. Hospital staff facilitated advanced preparations and they were able to transfer Mr. Ross directly from his hospital bed into the SA mobile operating room vehicle where the thoracic surgeon was waiting. This was the first case of open chest and heart cannulation and perfusion performed in the field and within about seven minutes of the patient arriving in the SA vehicle.

It is extremely unfortunate that the patient’s brain perfusion was so compromised by his stroke. Despite the especially bad situation surrounding the cause of clinical death, manual readings indicate a drop of about 10C in 30 minutes

After washout and perfusion, neuroseparation was performed. Under the direction of a consulting cryobiologist, he was cooled slowly to near dry ice temperature using a special protocol and shipped to Alcor. As of Friday November 4, 2011, Mr. Ross is being slowly cooled to liquid nitrogen temperature.