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 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 the 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 not to 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.