Du Hong, Alcor member A-2833, was pronounced clinically dead on May 30, 2015 at the age of 61. Du Hong, a neurocryopreservation member, was Alcor’s first patient from China, and 138th patient overall.
Du Hong was born in Chongqing, China and became well-known as a writer of books for children and as an editor of science fiction. One of the books she edited was a science fiction trilogy, The Three-Body Problem, which was themed around cryonics. While undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer she discovered cryonics and realized that it was a real-world option. Her family contacted Alcor from Beijing, where she was located, and helped her to investigate the possibility of cryopreserving her brain. Initial contact was much later than Alcor prefers, but there was sufficient time for all contractual and financial arrangements to be put in place.
On the evening of May 19, Aaron Drake, Alcor’s Medical Response Director, and surgeon Dr. Jose Kanshepolsky flew to San Francisco to apply for emergency medical visas to travel to China. They stayed at a hotel half a mile from the Chinese consulate so as to be first in line the next morning. After approval in less than 24 hours, they traveled straight from San Francisco to Beijing with a kit that would enable them to medicate and cryoprotect the patient. A fair amount of time was spent discussing the contents of the surgical/perfusion kit with Chinese Customs officials, but eventually they were allowed through with all of our supplies and perfusate.
The standby lasted nine days. Although longer than anticipated based on available medical information, it was fortunate in that it gave them time to negotiate with the Chinese government to gain permission to obtain immediate pronouncement of the patient, the ability to administer medications bedside, immediate hospital release to a paid transport team that was on standby, the ability to use the government mortuary’s prep room to perform the surgery and perfusion while two government officials observed the entire procedure, and then immediate cooldown with dry ice. Considerable help was provided by several individuals who had expressed interested in advancing cryonics in China.
On Saturday May 30th, 2015 at 5:50 PM (2:50 AM in Arizona), the patient was pronounced with Jose and Aaron at the hospital bedside. All of the plans fell into place and a field-neuro cryoprotection commenced shortly thereafter. Medications were administered and circulated, and the perfusion system worked well, priming quickly and holding pressure at 90-100 mmHg without adjustment over the course of the perfusion. Target concentration of cryoprotectant was achieved after close to three hours of perfusion and maintained for another 30 minutes before the procedure was completed. The international mortuary shipping consultant that we used anticipated no delays in getting the patient shipped to the US. However, there were delays in the approval process. Dry ice was added every two days while the paperwork was sorted out.
It had been decided that transport out of the country would be most likely accepted by the authorities with the patient as a whole body. Once approval was finally granted, Du Hong’s shipper was loaded with 200 kg of dry ice and flown to Los Angeles. At a nearby mortuary in the area with whom Alcor has worked many times before, the neuroseparation was carried out. Our patient arrived at Alcor on June 25 and cool down to liquid nitrogen temperature commenced immediately.