A-1765 becomes Alcor’s 147th Patient on August 7, 2016

A-1765, a private Whole Body member of Alcor since 1999, was pronounced on August 5, 2016 at the age of 67 in New York City and became Alcor’s 147th patient on the morning of August 7. Cool down to liquid nitrogen temperature was completed on August 16.

Alcor member A-1765 suffered an unwitnessed fall at home on August 4, 2016 and was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, New York City, New York. Emergency surgery was performed to control bleeding in her brain. Surgeons were unsuccessful at stopping the bleeding and placed the patient in the Neuro ICU on a ventilator. Family notified Alcor on August 5, 2016. The patient was taken off life support and declared clinically dead at 10:21pm EST/7:21pm MST that evening.

The circumstances dictated that this would be a straight freeze situation. Our main concerns were that the patient not be kept on the ventilator and that the patient be cooled and brought to Alcor as quickly as possible. Alcor personnel stayed in contact with the patient’s step-son and the patient’s resident doctor. We also immediately located a nearby funeral director who understood our needs and who would cooperate. We became very concerned when we were told that the case would be referred to the Medical Examiner for New York City due to state law stating any unwitnessed fall causing death is automatically an autopsy case. Fortunately, that turned out not to be the case, although we immediately alerted legal counsel in case an injunction was called for.

As soon as clinical death had been declared, the patient was initially cooled by the hospital and then – from the morning of the 6th – by the funeral home. After the delay before hearing whether or not an autopsy would be required, transportation from New York to Arizona was arranged quickly, and the patient arrived in Phoenix at 10:24am on August 7. Cool down began at Alcor before noon that day.

Cornelius (Neil) Freer, A-1495 is Alcor’s 146th patient

Alcor member of over 20 years, Cornelius (Neil) Freer, A-1495, was pronounced in New Mexico on March 25th, 2016 at the age of 85 and cryopreserved the same day. Neil, a whole-body member, is Alcor’s 146th patient.

A-1221 Katie Kars Friedman Case Summary, Patient 145

Long-time Alcor member, Katia (Katie) Kars Friedman, A-1221, was pronounced in Phoenix, Arizona on March 15th, 2016 and cryopreserved the same day. Katie, a neurocryopreservation member, is Alcor’s 145th patient.

Katie had been on our Watch List since 2009 but recently suffered significant trauma and a closed head injury from a fall, just two days after her 98th birthday. She was relocated to the Scottsdale area by air ambulance as she was not expected to survive. An initial standby was launched but was discontinued as she improved from critical to recovery mode. Over the next three months, she continued to make progress while under the care of numerous hospitals and care facilities, but multiple infections eventually became too much to overcome.

Once in the area, Katie was moved to an in-patient hospice facility where her end-of-life care was carefully monitored by Alcor. The hospice informed us that her expected death would automatically become a Medical Examiner’s case and be subject to an autopsy, due to her closed head injury. After discussions with the ME’s office yielded no possibility of a waiver, we reached out to the hospice physician to identify an alternate solution. All of Katie’s medical records from the last 3 months were gathered and supplied to the physician and a case was built to suggest that her mental capacities had returned to baseline, through her recovery, thus bypassing the head-injury rule. After careful review, the physician agreed with our assessment and stated that he would remove the requirement for autopsy.

A standby was reinitiated at the hospice. With team members in the patient’s room, cardiac arrest was witnessed and her pronouncement occurred two minutes later. Immediate stabilization and cooling commenced prior to the approximately 20 minute drive to Alcor, where the surgical team was ready and waiting. The patient’s nasal pharyngeal temperature was 15.6º C upon arrival and there was no delay in beginning neuro separation, cannulation, and cryoprotective perfusion. Initial indications suggest she received a high-quality perfusion, lasting 3.75 hours. The full case report will include results of a CT scan.

A-1700, Case Summary, Patient 144

Due to privacy restrictions that Alcor Life Extension Foundation respects, we can provide only minimal details in this case summary.

On January 25, 2016, Alcor was notified by the friend of an Alcor member that the member had been pronounced legally dead the previous day in Massachusetts after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. The member had specified that Alcor should cryopreserve “any part of the brain possible”. Unable to receive details from the family, Alcor deployed Medical Response Director, Aaron Drake, to recover the member by the binding authority of the member’s legal documents for cryopreservation before possible autopsy or cremation might occur.

After some delays locating the member without information from the family, cooling to dry ice temperature began on January 27 followed by subsequent transport to Alcor and cooling to liquid nitrogen temperature for long-term storage. With the assistance of Alcor’s legal counsel in sensitively communicating the member’s wishes to the family in their time of grief, a final viewing by the family was possible before dry ice cooling began.

A-2889 Mark Lee Miller, Case Summary, Patient 143

Mark Lee Miller, Alcor member A-2889, lived in Costa Mesa, California and suffered from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Mark, aged 61, served eight years in the Army and worked for the FBI in Orange County for 33 years. On December 31, 2015 at approximately 22:58 PST, Mr Miller suffered a sudden non-witnessed cardiac arrest. Although family members were near his bedside, they were unsure of the actual time when the member took his final breath. He was pronounced legally deceased in Costa Mesa, California at 23:55 PST (00:55 in Arizona) by the hospice nurse who had been called to the home by the family. Miller, a whole body member, became Alcor’s 143rd patient on December 31, 2015.

Mr Miller had planned to relocate close to Alcor to enter into hospice. Unfortunately, he declined more rapidly than expected, eliminating any opportunity to fly to Scottsdale. Alcor asked Suspended Animation to visit his home to evaluate his condition in an effort to determine deployment strategies. At this time he had good oxygenation by mask. Nevertheless, Mr Miller arrested a few hours following the visit, December 31, 2015. This unexpectedly rapid decline led to a delay before cooling and stabilization could commence by SA. A field washout was carried out in California.

On arrival at the location of field washout, the patient’s nasopharyngeal temperature was 15.0 degC. When the SA team arrived at Alcor at 11:45 PST/12:45 MST on January 1, nasopharyngeal temperature was 5.4 degC. Cryoprotection was concluded about five hours later and cool down to long-term storage begun. A CT scan was conducted at a later date. More information will be forthcoming in a case report, including the CT data.

–Max More

A-2878, Cormac Seachoy, Case Summary Patient 142

Cormac Seachoy (member A-2878), age 27, lived in Bristol, UK (England’s sixth largest city) and was a graduate of the University of Bristol where he was the vice president of their Social Enterprise Project. He also worked as the website coordinator at Bristol Cable. He volunteered for many organizations including Transparency International, an anti-corruption charity in Sierra Leone. Cormac suffered from metastatic neuroendocrine cancer of the colon. He was pronounced on December 16th, 2015. Stabilization, cool down, and transport was performed by Cryonics UK and the perfusion was performed by Aaron Drake, with the assistance of Rowland Brothers Mortuary. Cormac, a whole body member, became Alcor’s 142nd patient on December 16.

Cormac had intended to relocate to Scottsdale via air ambulance and enter an assisted-living facility but wanted to put off leaving his family until it became necessary. We realized that this made it likely that we would have to conduct a field cryoprotection in England. We first heard from and started discussing this case with Tim Gibson of Cryonics UK in late November. With support from his family, he was able to complete the paperwork and get finances in place on December 9.

In a deployment discussion on December 14, we were going on the basis of a current estimate of two more weeks to live. At that time, we were still planning options involving an air ambulance and either hospitalization or hospice. At the same time, his doctors warned that, despite their prediction of two weeks remaining, his bowel could perforate at any time and he could die suddenly and without warning.

We didn’t know at the time that he had only two days left. However, we had also planned for the possibility of doing a field cryoprotection, probably with the assistance of Cryonics UK. Alcor’s Medical Response Director, Aaron Drake, prepared to fly to Cormac’s location and perform standby, stabilization, and field cryoprotection with the assistance of Tim (who was the only member of C-UK available). Cormac, however, was declining rapidly on the 16th and arrested before Aaron could arrive. While Aaron was in the air, Max More discussed options with Tim.

Tim made the 180-mile trip from Sheffield to Bristol, arriving at 6:49 pm MST – a little over two hours after pronouncement. Instead of Aaron going to Bristol, the plan was now for him to meet Tim and the patient in London. Tim carried out the stabilization and transport to London essentially solo (with some help from long-term Alcor member Garret Smyth, who drove from London to Bristol). Max was able to get our international mortuary company in London where we store supplies to open early to accommodate Tim’s expected arrival time. Aaron arrived in London in time to improve the cannulation, complete cryoprotection, and see the patient begin cooling to dry ice temperature.

In order to avoid complications over the holidays, we held Cormac on dry ice for a little longer. He arrived at Alcor early in the evening on December 30. Cormac, our 142nd patient, is now at liquid nitrogen temperature at Alcor.

A-1497, Ronald Selkovitch, Patient 141

CASE SUMMARY

Ronald Selkovitch, A-1497, became an Alcor member back in 1995. During that time, he saw not only his mother be cryopreserved, but also his wife just three months prior. Now aged 81, Mr Selkovitch was suffering from an infection that occurred following an abdominal surgery and eventually became critically ill at a hospital in Escondido, CA. Since Alcor was returning from Philadelphia with their preceding patient, Suspended Animation (SA) was requested to start a standby. Less than 48 hours following deployment, Mr Selkovitch was pronounced at 05:02 on August 28, 2015, allowing the team to protect the patient’s cells during ischemia and cooling. Following this stabilization, a field washout was undertaken, and Mr Selkovitch was cooled while driven from California to Scottsdale by the SA team, where they handed over responsibility to Alcor.

He was stabilized and transported to Alcor Life Extension Foundation (Alcor) by ground transport, arriving at 15:25. Surgery, cephalon isolation, cooling and vitrification were performed by Alcor’s team, with cryoprotective perfusion completed at 21:21, followed immediately by cool down to liquid nitrogen temperature: -196˚C/-320 ˚F.

Neuro cryoprotective surgery continued at Alcor before profound cooling commenced. Mr Selkovitch (A-1497) became Alcor’s 141st patient on August 28th, 2015. On September 7, 2015 a CT scan was performed of Mr Selkovitch’s cephalon to assess his post-vitrification status and condition. The results will be linked to the report on the Alcor website when that is published in the near future.

Mr Selkovitch is a counter-example to the common fear that (assuming the process works for you), that you will be alone in the future. We can hold out reasonable hope that he will eventually be restored to active life at the same time as his wife and mother.

A-1624, James Baglivo, Patient 140

James Baglivo, winner of the Omni cryonics essay contest, becomes Alcor’s 140th patient.

James Baglivo, A-1624, was pronounced legally dead by today’s standards on August 25, 2015 at the age of 44, in New Jersey, USA. Baglivo, a neurocryopreservation member, became Alcor’s 140th patient.

Back in the early 1990s, Charles Platt birthed an idea and saw it through to completion: An “Immortality Prize” hosted by Omni Magazine, the winner of which would receive a cryopreservation free of charge. Some of us quite fondly remember Omni as a science and science fiction magazine published in print form from 1978 to 1995, founded by Kathy Keeton and her collaborator and future husband Bob Guccione, the publisher of Penthouse magazine. Even when it was shut down by Guccione in early 1996 following the death of Keeton, the magazine’s reported print run was still over 700,000 copies per month. Offering a free cryopreservation as the prize for winning an essay contest apparently generated an unprecedented degree of exposure for cryonics and for Alcor.

James Baglivo was the winner of the Omni Magazine Immortality Prize. It took Mr Baglivo some time to complete his arrangements, his membership being finalized on January 18, 1996. His winning of the Prize turned out to be very fortunate for him. Mr Baglivo was involved in a major auto accident leading to hospitalization in 1991 and he carried the burden of a family history of diabetes and heart disease. At the time of the contest, he was only 22 years old. His essay won him a $120,00 life insurance policy that Alcor purchased on his behalf to pay the costs of cryopreservation when the time came. He also remained a member even though he had never responded to any notices or requests or communications of any kind in ten years. That lack of communication made responding effectively and speedily considerably more difficult.

On August 25, 2015, Alcor received an emergency notification from a nurse with an organ procurement company in New Jersey when she noticed that her deceased patient was wearing an Alcor medical alert bracelet. She told us he had died from sudden cardiac arrest about three hours prior earlier. We later learned that he had suffered three cardiac arrests: The first around 5:00 pm (Arizona time), the second around 10:00 pm in a New Jersey hospital where he was placed on a ventilator, and the third at 2:55 am immediately after removal from ventilator, at which point he was pronounced. Alcor was notified at 5:03 am through our emergency alert service.

Mr Baglivo’s mother also called and said that, because of her son’s young age of 44, the Medical Examiner was planning on performing an autopsy the next morning. Alcor immediately reached out to the ME’s office and strongly urged them to not abrogate this individual’s civil rights and instead consider waiving their authority to perform a destructive autopsy, in light of his written health directives with respect to disposition of his own remains.

After reviewing the documents and medical history that Alcor sent, coupled with the diagnostic imaging and blood draws that were obtained at the hospital, the ME’s office decided to forego the procedure and release the patient to Alcor. A local mortuary was found that would remove the patient from the morgue’s cooler, pack it in ice and allow us to use their prep room when we arrived later that same night.

Although initial success had been achieved in stopping the invasive autopsy, time was the driving factor in the decision-making process. There was insufficient time to retrieve the physical entirety of Baglivo and bring him to Alcor for a whole body cryoprotection. As it was, our options were limited to a straight freeze (with attendant massive damage from ice crystals) or a field neuro cryoprotection and transport on dry ice. I (Max More) decided to authorize a field cryoprotection. This enables us to cryoprotect the brain with minimal delay even when an operating room is not available.

The move from whole-body with no cryoprotection (and a long delay) to neurocryopreservation with field cryoprotection (and a much faster timeline) also enabled us to pay for an air ambulance. This was arranged by Aaron Drake, Alcor’s Medical Response Director, who was accompanied by Steve Graber, Alcor’s Technical and Readiness Coordinator, on the trip to Philadelphia with the surgical and perfusion supplies. Through the night, Drake performed the surgery and cannulation while Graber ran the portable pump-powered perfusion equipment and reached target concentration through a 15 step cryoprotection ramp. The team then used dry ice to provide rapid cooling in Alcor’s specially designed Neuro Shipper container.

The cooling continued during transportation the team returned with the same flight crew who were returning to Phoenix. More aggressive cooling commenced upon arrival at Alcor. A-1624 became Alcor’s 140th patient on August 25th, 2015.

A full case report will follow.

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

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