Alcor News

Alcor News

News Blog of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation

Our Response to Covid-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges for the practice of cryonics. Alcor remains committed to providing cryopreservation when needed. However, Alcor members should be aware of limitations during the pandemic. If you are hospitalized, cryonics personnel deployed for standby services might not be allowed to visit you inside the hospital. Electronic contact with care providers and your family will instead be relied upon for condition updates. Prompt access to begin cryonics stabilization procedures after legal death may not be possible in hospitals.

Alcor or its contractor partners will negotiate for fastest possible access to begin procedures. If you become terminally ill, home hospice care or care at a cooperating hospice facility is recommended to permit faster cryonics response than hospital care. Since the best care is possible near Alcor, Alcor will continue to financially assist terminal members with relocation to Scottsdale, Arizona.

Due to loss of service from contract surgeons during the pandemic, and due to concern about circulating large volumes of infectious fluid with potential generation of airborne droplets during mixing, Alcor will not be using its normal cryoprotectant perfusion machines during the pandemic. Alcor will instead use the procedure Field Cryoprotectant Perfusion FCP. In FCP, only the head is perfused with vitrification solution via the carotid arteries using a simplified perfusion procedure in which no fluids are recirculated. This procedure means that during the pandemic, whole body cryonics patients will be cryopreserved without receiving any chemical protection from freezing injury below the neck.

Whether FCP will be performed in the field, as its name suggests, or in Alcor’s facility will depend upon logistics and surgeon availability on a case-by-case basis. Further precautions will apply to cases known to be positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. For COVID-19 cases, initial stabilization in ice will be limited to an abbreviated list of anticoagulant and other medications circulated by several minutes of chest compressions with the head covered to prevent exhaled breath from entering the room.

These restrictions may change as personnel gain more experience doing cases with scrupulous infection control procedures, if perfusion machine design changes are made, and if normal surgical service during the pandemic can be secured. Alcor will work on all these problems at the same time that it does a comprehensive review of all infection control procedures to ensure a safe baseline of operations during a highly contagious respiratory virus pandemic. If vaccine development takes longer than expected, there will be even greater efforts to safely return to normal practices by 2021. However, these are the limitations that Alcor is currently operating under. This temporary “fall back” position is necessary for the safety and continued availability of the limited number of specialized personnel whom Alcor has available to provide cryonics care for everyone during these extraordinary times.

Alcor’s VP of Finance, Bonnie Magee, leaves her job at Alcor

Bonnie Magee, Vice President of Finance has decided, after 10 years, to leave the employ of Alcor Life Extension Foundation. She is a long-time cryonicist and Alcor member and we value the contributions she has made and her dedication to Alcor. We wish her the best in her future endeavors. If you have any membership questions you can continue to reach out to Diane Cremeens, Director of Membership at diane@alcor.org and for any billing questions to Marji Klima, Director of Operations at marji@alcor.org.

Alcor Longevity Circle of Distinguished Donors

The Alcor Board of Directors is pleased to announce the formation of the Alcor Longevity Circle of Distinguished Donors. This new organization will honor those members and their foundations that have donated in excess of $100,000 over the past few years to support Alcor and its affiliated organizations. In addition to being recognized in Alcor publications and at conferences and other events, members will also be entitled to:

– Exclusive access and a quarterly conference call with Alcor Directors, officers, and officials to get in-depth briefings and ask questions and make suggestions.
– Special recognition, seating, and access to officials at Alcor conferences.
– An exclusive yearly, hosted in-person event honoring members with face-to-face interaction with Alcor Directors, officers, and officials.
– A unique, professionally designed and engraved memento of their membership.

These benefits are, of course, overshadowed by the immense gratitude members and patients’ families will always have for these especially generous individuals. The Board looks forward to announcing Charter members of the Longevity Circle who qualify by December 31, 2020. New levels of membership (higher and lower levels of participation) may also be announced in the future.

A message to our members about COVID-19

Novel coronavirus and the associated COVID-19 pandemic is a top priority at Alcor. The health and safety of our valued Members, staff, and strategic partners is of paramount importance. With the announcement of travel bans and the World Health Organization (WHO) recently declaring COVID-19 as a pandemic, Alcor is taking this threat very seriously. Updates on COVID-19 outbreaks are evolving rapidly and we are actively tracking the situation.

Rest assured, should the need arise, it is Alcor’s policy that we will respond to COVID-19 cases and we will advocate with officials and healthcare providers so we can provide the highest quality cryopreservation for our Members / Patients. Out of an abundance of caution, Alcor has taken and is taking the following steps to prepare to support our valued Members:

  • We proactively ordered medications, supplies and personal protective equipment for our standby, stabilization, and transport (SST) teams before inventory became unavailable. We are fully stocked and prepared to handle higher case volumes, if necessary.
  • We are hosting planning calls with our strategic partners, Suspended Animation (SA) and International Cryomedicine Experts (ICE), to ensure SST professionals are prepared for case work.
  • Alcor, SA, and ICE will coordinate SST to deliver the highest level of care to our Members / Patients that is possible with circumstances that exist.
  • Alcor will enhance our Watchlist to include members that test positive for COVID-19 and we will collaborate with SST professionals for rapid deployment.
  • Alcor Staff members will be allowed to work remotely for non-mission critical functions during this time to mitigate exposure to COVID-19 so they can be in optimal health when case(s) present. Additionally, Alcor will be suspending tours of our facility.
  • Alcor has postponed a training event that was to be held in New York in April with numerous attendees and other events planned for later this year are carefully being reconsidered.
  • Alcor and its partners are monitoring regulations for transport of human remains and human tissue infected with novel coronavirus. According to direct communication from the U.S. State Department, there are no new domestic restrictions for remains transport as of March 12. International cryonics patients will be maintained in dry ice if there are delays in obtaining importation permits, and/or converted to neuropreservation on an emergency basis if serious obstacles to importation of infected whole bodies are encountered.

Some of our Members have expressed interest in relocating, temporarily or permanently, to Scottsdale, AZ. Alcor does not have a specific recommendation regarding relocation because each Member has a unique set of circumstances. However, if a Member wishes to explore relocating closer to Alcor, we are happy to answer questions. International travel is not recommended for members residing in the U.S. due to the possibility of becoming seriously ill while abroad. The recommendations of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) should be followed for domestic travel.

You should contact your healthcare provider if you develop any symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath not related to existing conditions. Your healthcare provider will be able to make a recommendation on if you should come to the office, emergency department, or stay home. If you do test positive for COVID-19, or are hospitalized for any reason, please notify Alcor immediately. Alcor recommends that our Members maintain good hygiene and monitor updates as directly posted by the CDC and WHO.

Member A-1774 becomes Alcor’s 176th patient on January 14, 2020

A-1774 is a non-confidential, 77-year old, male with whole-body arrangements for cryopreservation. He had been a member since 2000. He was pronounced legally deceased in Scottsdale, AZ very shortly after being relocated from his home state by medical flight.

Alcor member A-1774 was in a rural area about two (2) hours away from a major airport, and over 1,600 miles away from Alcor. A healthcare provider contacted Alcor on Thursday, January 9 to inform Alcor the member may not have much time left.

Alcor’s Medical Response Director, Blake Honiotes, and Readiness Coordinator, Sarah Kelly, collected clinical data on the member. Vitals indicated no evidence that there was an immediate risk to the member; however, Alcor elected to send Eric Vogt, co-founder of International Cryomedicine Experts (ICE), to the member’s location to assess the situation further.

Eric arrived at the member’s bedside in less than 10 hours and, after assessing the member’s condition, concurred there was no immediate risk. While visiting the member, Eric built trust with the member’s daughter, Lori, who permitted Alcor to use her first name. Eric explained to Lori that Alcor can help provide relocation assistance for terminal members and she agreed to move her father to Arizona.

Eric from I.C.E. said, “With the information provided by ICE, Alcor was able to make informed decisions to ensure the best outcome for its member. ICE participated in discussions with Alcor on how to relocate the member due to inclement weather conditions, location to nearest major metropolitan airport, and the member’s health.”

Eric, Blake, and Sarah relocated the member to a short driving distance from Alcor on Sunday, January 12. Lori accompanied her father and Eric on the trip. In less than 7 hours after arriving in Arizona, the member suffered cardiac arrest. Protocol was initiated within 3 minutes and the member arrived in Alcor’s Operating Room within 72 minutes from pronouncement.

Blake, Alcor’s MRD, said, “Once the Member arrived, I was able to perform my own assessment and it was determined that a standby was warranted. When the patient suffered legal death, Alcor and ICE provided rapid stabilization and transport and surgical assistance. This collaboration between Alcor and ICE sets a great precedent that should be strived for in all future cases.”

This case is a first for Alcor in many ways. It’s the first case under Alcor’s new outcomes-based contract with ICE. It’s the first case for Alcor’s new MRD, Blake Honiotes. It’s the first case of 2020 and it’s the first case to take advantage of the newly increased relocation assistance for terminal members of up to $15,000as approved by the Alcor Board of Directors in December 2019.

The member’s daughter, Lori, who is not a cryonicist, told Alcor, “I’d just like to say thank you to Eric from I.C.E for making the last wishes of my father as painless as can be. If it weren’t for him and the members of Alcor, I’m not sure how I would have gotten through it. And thank you to Blake and Sarah. They treated me like family. I was lost after dad passed and I really needed that.” Lori toured the Alcor facility while she was in Arizona and returned to her home the evening of Monday, January 13.

A full case report will be published.