Alcor News

Alcor News

News Blog of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation

Annual Meeting of the Alcor Board, September 14, 2019

The 2019 Alcor Annual Meeting will be held on Saturday September 14, 2019, starting at 1:00 pm (MST) at the Thunderbird Suites Best Western conference room (7515 E Butherus Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85260). The elections of directors and officers will be conducted at this meeting and a wide range of topics will be discussed publicly until 3:00 pm. Members and the public are encouraged to attend this meeting. The 2019 Strategic Meeting is also scheduled the same weekend, including Friday and Sunday sessions. Some sessions are closed but a summary of the topics discussed at the 2019 Strategic Meeting will be posted to our blog and newsletter.

Please note: The start time of the public meeting may change. If you cannot attend in person, you can use our teleconference system to call in using just audio or audio and video. Send a request to for call-in information.

CEO Statement on Membership Statistics

by Max More

What does growth in “members” mean and how does it compare to the membership numbers of other cryonics organizations?

The American Cryonics Society (ACS) publishes no membership statistics. Oregon Cryonics doesn’t have members. Nor does Yinfeng in China. I did not find any official number for Kriorus members, but their Wikipedia entry says “200” based on an unofficial source (in Russian). “Osiris Back to Life” – a new and largely unknown organization – appears to have members but publishes no statistics. That leaves only Cryonics Institute as a comparative reference point.

As of April 2018, on its “CI Membership” page, CI claimed to have “TOTAL 1,882”. This top-line total number is the one repeated on Facebook, in their Wikipedia entry, in published pamphlets, and elsewhere. However, in smaller lettering, “Members” is listed at 1,525. The “total” comes from adding to that number both patients (165) and “Associate Members” (192). (I have been unable to find a definition of “Associate Member” anywhere on CI’s website.)

Alcor’s membership number of 1,176 refers to those who have made full contractual and financial arrangements to be cryopreserved and who are paying membership dues. It does not include patients. Nor does it include Associate Members. So, what is the comparable number for CI?

Since March 2015, this has been impossible to answer.

After that date, CI stopped publishing the comparable number, which used to be listed in a column called “CRYO”. The last record put “CRYO” members at 575. Although CI removed that information from public display, you can find it using the Wayback Machine, or you can see the screenshot I took before they deleted that data. “CRYO” was defined as “Funded Members with Contracts”. [Also as: “CRYO = CI Members with Funding and Contracts for Human Cryopreservation (a subcategory of MEMBERS) (See Becoming a Member)”] Back in October 2012, that was 505 out of a “Total Membership” of 1,040.

Another curious omission: “New CI members per year” is not listed in the yearly summary after 2016 here: http://www.cryonics.org/ci-landing/member-statistics/

CI’s definition of membership seems to require no more than paying membership dues: “For Yearly Membership the application must be accompanied by the initial dues payment and a $75 initiation fee. This secures your current membership and the right to execute a contract.” In other words, CI counts someone as a member so long as they are paying dues, even if they have not signed any contracts or made financial arrangements to be cryopreserved.

SPECULATIVE ARITHMETIC

In October 2012, Alcor-equivalent membership was 505, compared to a total of 1,040. That meant that 48.6% of “total members” were Alcor-equivalent members. If that same ratio holds now, we get (0.486 x 1,525) = 740.

What is the highest possible number of Alcor-equivalent members? Start with 1,525. Subtract “Pets”, “Assoc. Members”, “DNA/Tissue”, and you end up with 922. There may well be many people who are counted as members because they pay/paid dues but do not fit the three categories above. 922 is the highest number for real, full membership that I can come up with. The real number is either equal to or lower than this and, perhaps most likely, around 740.

Why does this matter?

I’ve been surprised by how many people are fooled by CI’s manipulation of the way it presents its membership numbers and its repeated claim that it is the organization with the largest number of members. Transparency matters greatly in this endeavor. It is unseemly for CI to parade its “low costs” and also claim to have more members than any other cryonics organization.

What are the trends in CI’s membership numbers? I’m interested only in members with cryopreservation arrangements, so that limits me to numbers no later than March 2015.

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March 2015

Members: 1180. CRYO: 575 (down by 3 from December 2014).
Increase of 98 “Cryo” members, i.e. real members, in the 3 years from March 2012 to March 2015. 32.67/year average.

March 2010 to March 2011

From 404 to 442 = 38 = 9.4%.

March 2011 to March 2012

From 442 to 477 = 35 = 7.9%.

March 2012 to April 2013

(There is no listing for March 2013): From 477 to 503 = 27 (or 25 annualized) = 5.24%.

April 2013 to April 2014

From 504 to 563 = 59 = 11.7%.

April 2014 to March 2015

From 563 to 575 = 12 (or 13 annualized) = 2.3%.

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We seeing a declining trend, with the exception of 2013 to 2014. Is this why the core membership numbers are no longer published? We can only speculate. It is interesting that over the last few years, Alcor’s membership growth trend has been rising, not declining. That is despite Alcor’s dues being significantly higher than CI’s.

In March 2015, CI had 575 cryopreservation members. Alcor had 1,027. In other words, CI’s cryopreservation membership was 56% of Alcor’s. Given evidence on recent trends (and hearsay from alienated CI members), that percentage has probably shrunk.

By the way, I have brought this numerical sleight-of-hand directly to the attention of CI’s leadership. The response was clear: They are going to keep doing it.

No public clarification on what Associate Membership means has been given to date. It appears that CI now has two categories of members without cryonics arrangements.

GROWTH IN PATIENTS VS. MEMBERS AT CI

Until quite recently and for a few years, Alcor and CI had almost exactly the same number of patients. But as of April 2018, CI had 165 patients compared to Alcor’s 156. [170 as of May 31, 2019.] CI acquired 35 patients in 3 years. That’s about 150% of the number of Alcor patients in the same time, despite about half the membership. In other words, CI’s growth in patient population is around 300% that of Alcor’s relative to number of members. This suggests that one or both of the following must be true: 1. CI’s membership is much older and less healthy than Alcor’s. 2. CI takes a vastly higher number of “post-mortem” third-party cases, a category of cases much more prone to lack of strong informed consent and to litigation.

CI ‘s website refers to “Our “Members-Only” policy for cryonic services”. However, this is highly misleading, since it looks clear that most people who are cryopreserved by CI were not members at the time.

At Alcor, we are currently working to reduce the loss of members, especially those who cite financial reasons for discontinuing their arrangements. It’s interesting that Cryonics Institute has added some interesting information to their Member Statistics page, apparently fairly recently: “At least one-fifth of Yearly Members allow their Membership to lapse.”

Although annual member dues with CI are a fraction of that of Alcor’s, CI nevertheless clearly loses quite a few members. I know that some of those are lost because they switch to Alcor. For the others, I don’t know the cause, nor whether it tells us anything about price sensitivity of Alcor members and potential members.

My hope is that CI will clarify and change the way they report their membership numbers. Failing that, this article will serve as a reference to point out to those who have bought into the “largest number of members” claim.

Gordon Norman, member A-1833, becomes Alcor’s 170th patient on May 26, 2019

Gordon Norman, Alcor member A-1833, a non-confidential whole body member, was pronounced legally dead on May 26, 2019 in Knoxville, TN. Mr. Norman, a member since 2000, received a brief standby followed by stabilization, field blood substitution, and transport by Suspended Animation in Knoxville and underwent cryoprotective perfusion at Alcor on May 27. That day, he became Alcor’s 170th patient.

Arthur Naiman, member A-1499, becomes Alcor’s 169th patient on May 13, 2019

Arthur Naiman, member A-1499, a non-confidential whole body member was pronounced legally dead on May 13, 2019 in Tucson, Arizona. After a four-day standby followed by stabilization and transport carried out by Alcor’s Medical Response Director and his local team, Mr. Naiman was cryoprotected at Alcor and started cool down on May 13. Mr. Naiman has been an Alcor member since 1995.

Bahareh Bina, A-3240 becomes Alcor’s 168th patient on April 29, 2019

Bahareh Bina (A-3240), a non-confidential female neurocryopreservation member from Bellevue, King County, Washington, became Alcor’s 168th patient on April 29, 2019.

On April 27th, Alcor deployed contractor Suspended Animation (SA) to Washington state, accompanied by Alcor’s Medical Response Director, Chris Divver, as an observer. The standby team set up at the Ms. Bahareh Bina’s house that evening. Bahareh was a 33-year old female member with mesenchymal chondrosarcoma, a form of cancer. She had been released from a hospital into home hospice care. The member and her family did not want to relocate to hospice care in Scottsdale, AZ.

It was discovered that King County stood out from other counties in the state by being especially demanding and difficult when it comes to obtaining a transit permit to move a legally deceased person out-of-state. Although, in Washington state, a hospice RN can make a legal pronouncement of death over the phone from family, without having to see the patient, they cannot help with the transit permit. Efforts by the team avoided the potential delay.

Bahareh Bina was pronounced legally deceased at 11:53 by a hospital nurse on April 29, 2019, in Bellevue, Washington. Despite concerns, surgery and washout went quickly and smoothly and paperwork was organized and received quickly. Cooling, stabilization, and medication administration followed. SA’s surgeon and perfusionist conducted a whole-body washout with organ preservation solution. Bahareh arrived by plane in Phoenix at 21:00 and arrived at Alcor at 22:15. Cryoprotection started sooner after, followed by cool down.

Jerry Searcy, A-1039, becomes Alcor’s 167th patient on March 24, 2019

Jerry Searcy, a non-confidential neuropreservation member became Alcor’s 167th patient on March 24, 2019, in Scottsdale, AZ. Jerry had been an Alcor member since 1979 and was a very active volunteer. His death was sudden and unexpected as Jerry seemed to be in good health for his age. Fortunately, the medical examiner released him to us without any damaging autopsy. It is not known how long the period of ischemia was – other than it cannot have been more than 24 hours.

Alcor member A-3224 becomes Alcor’s 166th patient on March 2, 2019

A-3224, a confidential 85-year-old Alcor member with third-party neurocryopreservation arrangements, was declared legally dead on February 20, 2019 in San Francisco, California.

A-3224, a third-party sign-up, was pronounced clinically deceased before any membership paperwork had been signed. Relatives placed him into a freezer at a funeral home in the San Francisco bay area while we awaited funds to be transferred and paperwork to be completed. Although Alcor rarely approves third-party sign-ups, this one passed most of our criteria. Medical Response Director, Chris Divver, flew to the member’s location on February 27 to coordinate with the funeral director.

Prior to his departure, Chris spent time with Alcor Technical Coordinator, Steve Graber, to practice building Alcor’s standard whole body dry ice shipper to get more hands-on knowledge of the process. He also included a copy of the instructions to bring with me. Once in the area, using Alcor documentation Chris worked with the funeral service to build the dry ice shipper. The quality of the build was verified through extensive photographic documentation and an overnight dry ice consumption test.

On March 1, the dry ice shipper was sealed and transported to the airport. Unfortunately, the dry ice shipper was 100lbs overweight and was unable to get onto the flight. Although this was frustrating, it was far better than shipping with insufficient dry ice. On March 2, the case was resealed and taken to the airport, this time being under the weight limit. The member arrived that evening and went into cool down at 10:30 pm.

Alcor Member Profile: Michael Geisen

Minnesotan by birth and adventurer by nature, Michael Geisen is one of the hungry minds of the West Coast cryonics community, radiating life from his maverick spirit to his reputedly spry constitution. With his Alcor membership spanning two decades, combined with a robust, eclectic background in naval aviation and sales, he offers a unique perspective to the future of cryonics and the priorities therein.

Click here for Michael’s profile.