Alcor News

Alcor News

News Blog of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation

Next Alcor Board of Directors Meeting

The next Alcor Board of Directors meeting is scheduled for Saturday December 8, 2012, at 11:00 AM (MST) at the Alcor facility, 7895 East Acoma Drive in Scottsdale, AZ. The public part of the meeting will be short, to allow in-depth board discussions. Members and the public may attend the public portion in which announcements will be made and questions taken from members and the public. Full public meetings in 2013 will those in January, March, May, July, September, and November.

The next full public Alcor Board of Directors meeting, to which members and the public are encouraged to attend, is scheduled for Saturday, January 5, 2013, at 11:00 AM (MST) at the Alcor facility, 7895 East Acoma Drive in Scottsdale, AZ.

Alcor’s 113th Patient

John Monts, A-1645, a neuro member of Alcor since January 1997, was declared clinically dead as of October 31, 2012 at age 68. He is Alcor’s 113th patient.

On the afternoon of Thursday November 1, 2012, several personnel at Alcor received a Telemed emergency call and text concerning member John Monts. (Mr Monts requested privacy prior to cryopreservation, but said his arrangements were public afterward.) Apparently Mr Monts traveled from his home in North Carolina for dental work in his previous neighborhood in South Carolina. Sometime on the evening of October 31, he was robbed. Sometime the following morning, he was found clinically dead in his hotel room. Time of death was estimated as around 11pm by the pathologist. Whether there was any connection between the robbery and his clinical death is not known to us, but the circumstances made this a coroner’s case.

The first we knew of any of this was at 2:08 pm on November 1. Max More immediately contacted one of Alcor’s attorneys who has assisted in the past when we faced a coroner’s case. While we pressed to limit the autopsy we also made arrangements for cooling to dry ice temperature and discussed options for transporting the patient back to Arizona intact or alternatively doing the neuro-separation on site. Aaron Drake spent considerable time talking to various people and departments at the Medical University of South Carolina – Charleston. Initially they seemed very willing to cooperate with limiting autopsy and allowing quick cooling to dry ice temperature, but a change of personnel led to complications. With our legal input, the coroner agreed to conduct a toxicology panel and external head examination while refraining from opening the skull and sectioning the brain. Mr Monts was then released to us on the condition that we conduct a CT scan of his brain and send the results to the coroner.

Aaron flew out to Charleston on November 4 to collect Mr Monts, who was now at dry ice temperature, buying us time. Aaron conducted the neuro-separation then, that evening, topped off the neuro shipper box with dry ice ready for shipment to Alcor the following morning. A medical emergency delayed the flight’s arrival, as it was diverted to El Paso. The patient arrived in Phoenix on November 7 and reached Alcor at 6:30 am. Cooldown to liquid nitrogen temperature began shortly after. It was noted that, on November 9, the dry ice neuro shipper still had some dry ice inside, confirming our previous tests.

Cryo vs. Chemo Discussion at Humanity+ Conference, San Francisco

Humanity+ will be holding a conference in San Francisco, December 1-2, 2012. Max More will be speaking on “Archiving the Brain’s Writing: Cryo or Chemo?” Among other Alcor members speaking are Aubrey de Grey, Natasha Vita-More, Todd Huffman, Christine Peterson, and Ben Goertzel. These and many more speakers will discuss aspects of “Writing the Future.”

Southern California Annual CryoFeast and Networking Event

Meet up with old friends or make some new ones. You might even meet the perfect person to collaborate with on a project. If you attended the Alcor-40 2012 Conference you know how important it is that we all try to keep in touch as often as we can with our fellow Cryonicists. Events like our annual CryoFeast are a great way to keep our community together. If could not make it to the Alcor-40 conference- all the more reason to attend the CryoFeast and meet Alcor CEO, Max More.

Alcor members, their family and friends are all welcome. We hope you can join us to kick off the holiday season and we look forward to seeing you!

Date: Saturday November 17th
Time: 5:00 PM to 10 PM
Location: The Colony at Fashion Island (inside the clubhouse)
5000 Colony Plaza Newport Beach, CA (note that The Colony is just across the street from Fashion Island…an upscale mall in Newport Beach)

Remember, this will be a POT LUCK so please bring a dish to share and your favorite beverage. Try to bring a tasty but healthy dish (and if you bring something that needs to be heated, we have an oven there to warm it up.) You’re welcome to bring GUESTS….the more the merrier! But please ask each person to bring a dish and something they wish to drink.

There is a guarded GATE. Tell the attendant that you are coming to the party in the clubhouse. If your name is on the list he’ll let you in (so make sure to RSVP with your name and any guest’s names). Please RSVP to Kat Cotter (katcotter@gmail.com) or if you have any questions.

September-October Cryonics Magazine

The September-October issue of the Cryonics magazine is now available online. This issue of Cryonics magazine features the complete program, information about the talks and speakers, and registration information.

Also, in the CEO update, Alcor President Max More writes about new research at Alcor aimed at validating “fielding vitrification” for overseas members, a recent last minute case, and ongoing improvements at Alcor.

Symposium on Cryonics and Brain-Threatening Disorders
On Saturday, July 7, 2012, around 30 people attended the first ever symposium on dementia and cryonics in Portland, Oregon. Ben Best, who attended the event and was one of the presenters, provides a detailed account of the symposium about this important but discomforting topic. Also present was Alcor CEO Max More who spoke about the concept of the “extended mind” and its implications for personal survival and neurodegenerative diseases.

 

23-Year Old with Terminal Brain Cancer Hopes to be Cryopreserved

Kim Suozzi, 23, has terminal brain cancer. The cancer is highly aggressive and growing rapidly in a location that makes surgery impossible. Her final wish is to be cryopreserved.

Alcor Life Extension Foundation has offered to cryopreserve Kim at a reduced cost, with the staff donating their time for her cryopreservation.

“I learned about cryonics several years ago, while doing reading for a science class, says Kim. “I had always planned on establishing cryopreservation arrangements through life insurance, but I was caught off guard when I was suddenly diagnosed during my last month and a half of college. The only thing that I can think of that might let me live out my full life and make me feel a little more at ease with my death is to secure cryopreservation plans in the belief that they figure out how to revive people in the future.”

Ms. Suozzi of Columbia, Missouri wants to relocate to Scottsdale – as soon as possible – which will further reduce the $80,000 cost of cryopreservation. However, she lacks the funds. Hundreds of donors have reached out to help Kim, but time is short. Donations of any amount are welcome. Send your tax deductible donation to the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, 7895 E. Acoma Drive, Suite 110, Scottsdale, AZ 85260, or call 480.905.1906 x114. With help, it is hoped that Kim can someday resume a full life.

Although walking with a leg brace, Ms. Suozzi plans to attend the Alcor 40th Anniversary conference at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort (7200 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale) from October 19 – 21. She will share her story briefly during the conference and is available for interviews until the morning of Tuesday October 23.

Changes in Dues Discounts

At the 2012 Strategic Meeting, the board agreed to a proposal made by Finance Director Bonnie Magee and supported by Alcor President Max More to alter the various discounts offered for membership dues. The aim is to make changes that are nearly budget-neutral but are fairer than the existing discount structure. Alcor would also like to recognize our long-term members, who have supported Alcor for many years.

From the start of 2013, this means that discounts for older students will be reduced, while members who have been with Alcor for over 20 years will receive a discount. Family member discounts remain unchanged. The revised discounts are as follows:

Full-time students:
25 and under: $310 off annual dues
26 – 30: $155 off annual dues
31 +: no discount

Long term members:
Members over 20 years receive $186 off annual dues

Family members:
Minor family members: $465 off annual dues
Adult family members: $310 off annual dues

All amounts are shown as annual total dollar reductions in membership dues only (not CMS charges). Members may only receive one type of discount. Alcor will automatically select the largest discount. Discounts are not applied to life members. Family members should reside in the same residence to receive discount.

Report on 2012 Alcor Strategic Meeting

The 2012 Strategic Meeting took place from Friday September 7 until Sunday September 9. All Alcor directors attended in person, as did Alcor president Max More. The Strategic Meeting is the annual, intensive review of the organizations priorities and performance. You will find a more extensive discussion of several of the outcomes in a forthcoming issue of Cryonics magazine, but here are the main resolutions and priorities on which agreement was reached:

The current officers and board of directors were reelected.

The board accepted the CEO’s recommendation to accept Kim Suozzi as a charity case, based on arrangements that will reduce Alcor’s costs. The full allocation of $25,000 to the patient care trust fund will be made. Alcor members have contributed to the fundraising effort to enable Kim to be cryopreserved.

The following resolution was formally passed: “Alcor shall tender to the PCT the full amount of the current PCT minimums for all underfunded cases, as soon as practicably consistent with Alcor’s cash flow needs, except to the extent that the PCT board waives some amount. Any amount not immediately paid shall be recorded as a liability to be discharged as soon as practicably possible.”

The allocation to the Comprehensive Member Standby (CMS) fund for whole body and neuro members was equalized.

Alcor has previously offered terminal members up to $5,000 to relocate to the Scottsdale area. Relocation close to Alcor both substantially reduces costs and improves the expected quality of procedures by greatly reducing transport time and enabling the team to go straight to cryoprotection rather than first doing a remote blood washout and long-distance transport. The board increased that allowance to $10,000.

As minimum requirements for funding of cryopreservation inevitably go up over time, members who did not take out insurance well over the minimum of the day – or who do not regularly add to their savings in the form of a trust or other fund reserved for cryopreservation – may find it difficult to meet new, higher minimums. For older members, adding to life insurance may be too expensive or not an option. Other assets may be illiquid yet substantial, real estate being a common example. At the meeting, the board and president discussed alternative funding methods and resolved further to pursue possible options.

If cryonics is to become more widely accepted in the general scientific community, we need to add to existing evidence for the effectiveness of our procedures. One way to do this is to gather more data during all stages of stabilization, transport, and cryoprotection. We can also gather evidence of the quality and effectiveness of brain perfusion and structural preservation by routine CT scanning of neuro patients and by conducting biopsies of spinal cord and possibly other samples for all patients. The board expressed general support for carefully moving forward with this, ensuring that members understand what we propose to do.

Various changes to the language in the Cryopreservation Agreement for new members were agreed to. The board also agreed to a proposal to alter the discounts we offer for membership dues. The aim is to makes changes that are nearly budget-neutral but are more fair than the existing discount structure. From the start of 2013, this means that discounts for older students will be reduced, while discounts will be introduced for long-term members who have been paying dues for many years. The exact discounts will be announced separately.

The Strategic Meeting not only reviews current priorities, it acts as a forum to set new priorities or to reaffirm existing ones. The board and the president came up with a list of almost two dozen potential high priorities. Each person then voted for no more than three of the priorities. Five priorities emerged as the most strongly supported:

1. Fundraising. Alcor would be strengthened by bringing in new funds, primarily to be added to the Endowment Fund in order to generate operating income over the long term (the Fund allowing only a 2% annual draw), assuring funders that contributions will not be spent recklessly on a project-of-the-moment. Pursuing this goal will involve cultivating relationships with wealthy patrons and adding significantly to the endowment fund over the next couple of years.

2. SOPs and backup training. Jobs and roles at Alcor tend to be unusual. It’s not easy for a new person to step in and take over at short notice. To minimize the disruption of losing a staff member, we want to produce detailed standard operating procedures (SOPs) for every staff member as well as to think about who could take over any given position. This project is to be completed within 12 months.

3. Improved communication and coordination with Suspended Animation (SA). Since SA now handles standby, stabilization, and transport for all Alcor cases outside Arizona but within the United States, it’s important that the two organizations have excellent communication and coordinate their activities as fully and smoothly as possible.

4. Membership growth. Growth cannot solve all problems but it can help. This is especially true when new members are fully funded and when the organization can reap economies of scale. Currently, Alcor finds itself in something of a Catch-22 situation: Providing high quality services without running at a perpetual deficit means membership dues at a level that are making it difficult to retain and attract members. If we can find a way to accelerate membership growth, we should eventually be able to continue raising our quality of service while actually reducing membership dues. The board set the goal of doubling the rate of growth.

5. Structural balance in finances. Although Alcor’s finances have looked good in the last couple of years, this is partly due to unusual (or at least unpredictable) income, and to some salaries being paid by donors rather than out of general operating funds. The goal here is to be able to cover all operating expenses without relying on extraordinary income.

Other topics discussed included the Underfunding Plan, research goals, the Wealth Preservation Trust, the Endowment Fund, and progress in more accurately assessing the costs of long-term cryopreservation of whole body and neuro patients.

–Max More

Alcor’s 112th Patient, A-2628

Alcor member A-2628 (he wishes his identity to be kept private) was pronounced legally deceased on July 23, 2012. A whole body member, A-2628 became Alcor’s 112th patient.

On Friday, July 20th, Alcor was notified through the TeleMed alert system that a 90 year old individual wishing to be cryopreserved was in serious condition in a Las Vegas hospital. This individual had filled out an application for membership in 2009 (and was provisionally assigned the number A-2628) but never followed through with the necessary paperwork and funding. Since he became unable to make cryonics arrangements, this case had to be treated as a third-party arrangement.

Because of the greater risk involved, Alcor requires additional conditions to be met before accepting such a case. These conditions are rarely met. These include some past interest in cryonics on the part of the person for whom cryopreservation is sought; lack of opposition by close relatives; finances in place without undue hardship; no long ischemic time; and informed consent of persons making the arrangement. This case was one of the rare ones to proceed, in large part due to the determined efforts of A-2628’s granddaughter supported by the family accountant.

Over the weekend of July 21-22 Aaron and Max pushed hard to get more information on his medical condition, to get all necessary Third-Party sign-up documents signed, and to secure payment – all conditions necessary before we could go into action. The grandfather’s health declined rapidly, while we ran into administrative delays common at the weekend. Although his clinical death occurred on July 23rd, a day prior to completing the sign-up process, arrangements were made to have his body heparinized and cooled at a local mortuary until his membership status could be approved.

Once the necessary arrangements had been completed, Aaron flew to Las Vegas and arrived approximately 22 hours after clinical death to complete the medication administration, create a more aggressive cooling environment and package the body for flight. An air ambulance was paid for by the family to minimize the travel time and the patient arrived at Alcor for washout and cryoprotection within the next six hours. Several Alcor staff stayed through the night of July 24/25 until A-2628 had been perfused as well as possible given his condition, and dropped below the freezing point.