Alcor News

Alcor News

News Blog of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation

Mariette Selkovitch becomes Alcor’s 136th patient on May 5, 2015

Mariette Selkovitch, Alcor member A-2830, was pronounced clinically dead on Tuesday May 5, 2015 at 1:30 am in California. Mrs. Selkovitch, a neurocryopreservation member, became Alcor’s 136th patient later the same day.

Around 1:16am on Tuesday May 5, 2015, we received an alert from Ronald Selkovitch, a 21-year member of Alcor. His wife, Mariette, had gone into cardiac arrest and resuscitation was being attempted. There was no membership paperwork for her and no funding arranged but he was insisting that we come for her. Normally, the absence of prior arrangements would rule out Alcor accepting such a case. However, on checking our records, some important details emerged. Something similar happened in 2008, when Mr. Selkovitch’s 101-year old mother died, also without having any membership paperwork signed or funding arranged. Nevertheless, we accepted the case. Mr. Selkovitch followed through as promised and paid for her. His mother is still our oldest patient at time of clinical death, just short of 102 years old.

Medical Response Director, Aaron Drake, contacted Suspended Animation to put them on the alert. However, SA’s Suspension Services manager said that (especially given that any team would likely arrive post-mortem) SA would not deploy without complete paperwork and agreement from the board and from Alcor’s Chief Medical Advisor, Dr. Steven Harris. I called and was able to consult with a majority of directors in the middle of the night and secure agreement from everyone, along with Dr. Harris, but the shortage of time meant that it would be impossible to fulfill the conditions for SA and so Alcor deployed a team directly.

It must be stressed that the decision could easily have gone the other way, and in just about any other circumstance, would have. As it was, due to this being a third-party signup (by a member), Mr. Selkovitch was faced with the standard third-party fee (the primary purpose of which is to compensate for family and legal risks). He said he would gladly cover this if we would accept his wife’s case.

We were fortunate in that the sheriff said that no autopsy was needed and she would be released immediately to a mortuary (the same one where his mother was taken in 2008). The one living son of Mr. and Mrs. Selkovitch was on his way and Mr. Selkovitch said he was on the way there and would very likely sign the Relative’s Affidavit (which he did). Mr. Selkovitch was diligent in that he filled out the membership paperwork that I gave Aaron to take with him. Funding followed very rapidly.

The Alcor team set out for California at 5:21 am and were able to administer and circulate medications while packing the head in ice. The team returned to Alcor with Mrs. Selkovitch at 7:38 pm. Cryoprotective perfusion was ended at 12:13 am on May 6 and cool down immediately initiated.

–Max More

Dr. Laurence Pilgeram becomes Alcor’s 135th patient on April 15, 2015

Laurence Pilgeram, Alcor member A-1245, was pronounced clinically dead on Friday April 10, 2015 in Santa Barbara, California at the age of 90. Alcor was notified on Monday April 13 and Dr. Pilgeram, a neurocryopreservation member, became Alcor’s 135th patient on April 15, 2015.

Dr. Laurence Pilgeram, a cryopreservation member of Alcor since 1991, was involved in cryonics early on. He gave a talk at the 1971 Cryonics Conference in San Francisco, California, on “Abnormal in-Vitro Oxidation and Lypogenesis Induced by Plasma in Patients with Thrombosis”. Dr. Pilgeram was awarded his PhD. in Biochemistry at the University of California at Berkeley in 1953. In 1954-55 he served as an Instructor in Physiology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago. After two years, he accepted an offer to develop and head an Arteriosclerosis Research Laboratory at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. He later moved to Santa Barbara, California for a time before joining the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX to develop and head the Coagulation Laboratory there.

On April 10, Dr. Pilgeram, collapsed outside of his home of an apparent sudden cardiac arrest. Despite medical and police personnel aware of his Alcor bracelet, he was taken to the medical examiner’s office in Santa Barbara, as they did not understand Alcor’s process and assumed that the circumstances surrounding his death would pre-empt any possible donation directives. Since this all transpired late on a Friday evening, Alcor was not notified of the incident until the following Monday morning.

Fortunately, no autopsy was performed which at least eliminated any invasive damage but the lengthy delay led to a straight freeze as the only remaining option. The medical examiner released the body to the mortuary that Alcor uses in Buena Park, California and he was immediately covered with dry ice, per our request. Aaron Drake and Steve Graber traveled to California to perform a neuro separation in the mortuary’s prep room and then returned to Arizona for continued cool down which began on April 15, 2015.

Pilgeram

Two-Year Old Thai Girl Becomes Alcor’s 134th Patient

Matheryn Naovaratpong, Alcor member A-2789, was pronounced legally dead on January 8, 2015 (the same date in both Thailand and Arizona’s time zone) in Bangkok, Thailand. The same day Matheryn, a neurocryopreservation member, became Alcor’s 134th patient. She is also Alcor’s youngest patient, being less than three years old at the time of her cryopreservation.

Matheryn was diagnosed with a rare form of pediatric brain cancer (ependymoblastoma). Her parents, both with doctorates in engineering, went to great lengths to find an effective treatment, and tried aggressive chemotherapy, high dose radiation therapy, and numerous neurosurgeries, but Matheryn’s health was failing. When it became clear that Matheryn had only months or weeks left, given today’s level of medical science and treatment, the parents completed cryonics arrangements for her and worked with Alcor (primarily Medical Response Director, Aaron Drake) to overcome barriers of distance to provide her with a high-quality cryopreservation – which includes cryoprotection of her brain.

The family had originally planned to relocate their daughter to the US as her disease process became more advanced and significant planning was made towards that end with a California-based specialty hospital. This included finding suitable hospitals that accept pediatric cases or hospices that are certified for pediatric cases. However, with only a few days remaining before the girl was to be flown to the US, her respiratory function decreased significantly and she was placed on a ventilator, which eliminated any possibility of commercial airline travel. Since prior planning had been made and contacts had been established within that country for a different Alcor client (who helped generously and effectively in this case) and his family, the confidence level was high that the procedure could still be successfully performed in Thailand.

After discussing which individuals should be on the response team for a child who had 12 previous neuro surgeries and potentially very challenging vasculature, it was decided that Dr. Kanshepolsky, a neuro surgeon, would be an excellent candidate. After a request was made, Dr. Kanshepolsky agreed to travel with Aaron to perform the standby and a field neuro-cryoprotection, following the young girl’s pronouncement. His expertise proved invaluable. After examining the girl at the hospital, he made several observations and recommendations to the family that informed the decision to undertake cryoprotective perfusion of Matheryn’s brain in Thailand while not separating her brain (which was to be preserved) from the rest of her body. This worked out to be an effective way to move through the repatriation process and back to the US.

Two days were needed for travel to Thailand and two days were spent on standby. On the second day, Matheryn was pronounced by a physician who was present at the bedside when clinical death occurred. A surgery suite had been prepared in an adjoining room and access to the patient for stabilization and perfusion was immediate. Alcor’s field cryoprotection system was tested in the very remote field and proved effective. By existing benchmarks, the procedure went very smoothly and without incident. The entire patient was placed in a specially prepared dry ice shipping container and cool down to dry ice temperature (-79 degrees C/-109 degrees F) began on-site.

After the US Embassy in Thailand approved the shipment, the container was topped off with dry ice and shipped by airline to LAX for customs approval. It was easier and quicker for Alcor to work directly with our mortuary agent in Buena Park, California and take possession of the shipment directly in Los Angeles, rather than to secure another flight to Phoenix and deal with two additional sets of cargo offices. Steve Graber and Aaron Drake drove to California, topped the container off with dry ice, obtained a transit permit with the assistance of the mortuary and drove back to Arizona. The neuro separation was performed at Alcor after arrival and Matheryn became Alcor’s 134th patient.

This case was remarkable in several ways, including the determination and resourcefulness of Matheryn’s parents in working with Alcor to make this very long-distance case both possible and successful. It was the first ever field neuro cryoprotection in Asia and the Matheryn is our youngest patient. Matheryn’s family, extending well beyond her mother and father, were supportive and have said they plan to also make cryopreservation arrangements with Alcor. No doubt being surrounded by familiar faces of loving relatives will make the resumption of her life – as we hope and expect to be happen – easier and more joyful.

— Max More and Aaron Drake

Alcor Conference 2015: October 9-11

ALCOR CONFERENCE 2015: Alcor members should have received a “Save the Date” card a couple of months ago, but some may have missed it and non-members may not have heard anything. We will have more details very soon, but for now:

DATE: October 9-11, 2015
LOCATION: Scottsdale Resort and Conference Center, 7700 East McCormick Parkway, Scottsdale, AZ 85258.

Please email marji@alcor.org if you would like to receive updates (and you are not already a member who has given us your email address). We will very soon start announcing speakers and topics. For now, we plan to cover repair and revival scenarios, rehabilitation, and reintegration; the evidence supporting cryonics; how a regular person can afford cryonics and best plan for funding it and their own post-revival life; legal challenges and progress; multiple approaches to eliminating fracturing and other forms of damage; and much more!

This conference should be the largest cryonics conference yet, and we want the videos of sessions to serve a powerful educational and inspirational purpose for years to follow.

I have a substantial list of possible speakers and sessions but it is NOT too late to suggest your own ideas! Get your thoughts and suggestions in VERY soon though, because the program will fill up over the next few weeks. Email me at max@alcor.org

We hold the Alcor conferences only once every three years. We heard from many people who didn’t make it to the 2012 conference who expressed regret after hearing about it from those who went. This will be a rare opportunity to network and hear about progress in numerous areas directly from those involved.

–Max More
Alcor President

Advanced Neural Biosciences is hiring

Advanced Neural Biosciences, the Portland, Oregon-based company that Alcor collaborates with on a variety of research projects, is hiring. They are looking for a full-time Research Associate who can assist in a variety of lab tasks. But this person MUST have vascular microsurgical experience (i.e., vessel cannulation, particularly carotid and jugular) AND/OR experience with brain slice electrophysiology. We especially encourage people in the life extension community to apply. For more information, please send a message to chana.phaedra@gmail.com.

Frank Simmross Becomes Alcor’s 133rd Patient

Frank Simmross, Alcor member A-2788, was pronounced clinically dead at 1:33 am on December 19, 2014 in Scottsdale, Arizona. The same day, Simmross, a neurocryopreservation member, became Alcor’s 133rd patient.

Frank Simmross, a Doctor of Pharmacy, was a German National who also had a home in Florida with his wife. He received a late term diagnoses of prostate cancer roughly two years ago and had been receiving treatments in Germany to stave off the continued growth. Despite the treatments, cancer spread to his liver and bone. After being given 6-10 weeks to live by his medical providers, Dr Simmross and his wife traveled to their home in Florida to prepare to come to Scottsdale and enter into hospice. His deteriorating condition ruled out using a commercial airline, but he and his wife were able to pay for an air ambulance.

Dr Simmross arrived in Scottsdale on Saturday December 13, 2014 having completed his paperwork but not yet having provided funding. His membership was only finalized once a cashier’s check was received on the 15th, which turned out to be less than four days before clinical death. After being pronounced at 1:33 am on Friday December 19, stabilization and cooling were initiated immediately and Dr Simmross was brought to Alcor at 2:59 am. CPS continued for another 45 minutes until the cooling rate slowed, indicating that CPS should be discontinued at 19.3 C. A new and faster method of isolating the carotids was used successfully. The perfusion ramp was started at 4:36 am. Flow through the left carotid was weaker than the right, a finding that was easier to make now that the pressure is controlled by the computer. The perfusion ramp was ended at 9:09 am and the cool down program started at 9:27 am.

Daniel Parker Becomes Alcor’s 132nd Patient

Daniel Parker, Alcor member A-1350, was declared legally dead on the morning of December 16, 2014 in Torrance, California. Later the same day Parker, a 91-year old neurocryopreservation member, became Alcor’s 132nd patient.

At 8:00 am on Tuesday December 16, 2014, we received an alert from our emergency communications system initiated by the member’s daughter. The time of clinical death was unknown but was probably sometime in the 12 hours prior to discovery at 7:30 am (all times in Arizona time zone). The time of pronouncement was 8:00 am. We discussed several scenarios to cover a lack of knowledge of the conditions. Alcor’s partner, Suspended Animation (SA), was contacted and mobilized rapidly. The SA team arrived a little over two hours after pronouncement and was able to administer medications. The patient was driven in SA’s emergency vehicle and arrived at Alcor at 6:24 pm.

The patient’s (pharyngeal) temperature on arrival at Alcor was around 8C. It was observed that the carotids were big and soft but during the perfusion process large clots were pushed from the vertebrals. Flow was poor from the very beginning. Perfusion was discontinued when brain swelling become obvious. At 9:28 pm, the patient was transferred to a cool down dewar. At 12:45 am on December 17, the bur hole temperature was -43C and the pharyngeal temperature -25C. Eyeball inspection of the data did not show an isotherm, suggesting that we achieved substantial cryoprotection. A CT scan should enable us to confirm or challenge that assumption. Mr Parker reached liquid nitrogen temperature on December 23. He had been a member since September, 1991, and was born in Scotland in 1923.