Freezing: How to Wake Up
What is life made of?
I killed a good half-hour looking for an illustration for cryogenic clinics, or more precisely, factories… or perhaps “plantations”, but I didn’t find any. Even thirty minutes here and there can accumulate into half a lifetime gone, so maybe I should finally ask to be frozen and then thawed later, in order to have a much brighter future, perhaps sometime around 2416.
True, cryopreservation is catching on, although no one knows if there’s any sense in it. Recently, a 14-year-old girl in England, dying of cancer, won a case against her father who was opposed to her being frozen.
No, he didn’t doubt the effectiveness of the method. Let’s look at his arguments:
“Even if she comes back to life after 200 years, she won’t be able to find a single living relative, and won’t necessarily remember what had happened during her 14 years, in addition to waking up in the United States,” said her caring father, now divorced from her mother more than 6 years prior. He had also not spoken with her during those 6 years.
Waking up in the United States – what could be scarier?
The poor girl is said to have won her case, and then immediately after her death was frozen. To die with hope, I believe, is better than to be without. And now, more about the process…
The two best countries for the living dead
There are only two countries in which there are companies that deal with such a strange thing – USA, and (you’re gonna laugh) Russia. Although that may be funny, the country is overrun with oligarchs (kind of like lawyers here) and they want to live forever, as well. So the price tag is a pretty penny – $46,000.
The technology itself is called cryonics. Modern medicine has learned to freeze and store blood cells, bone marrow, semen, and even allegedly embryos at very low temperatures. But the storage and then “recovery” of a whole person is open to question.
What the science says
John Armitage, director of storage for tissues and cells at the University of Bristol, has his doubts:
“What are the chances that there will be no damage? We haven’t even reached the stage of cryopreservation of whole organs, so to do so with a whole body will be a difficult task.” I love this expression… as if we don’t already know that this is a difficult task.
Well of course intracellular structure isn’t straight-forward. There are the blood vessels, the blood itself, and much more, and all of this we need to preserve and not just freeze.
Barry Fuller, a professor of surgery and cryopreservation at the University College London, doesn’t say anything new, either: “The first step is to prove in practice that human organs can be put in cryostasis for subsequent transplantation, but at the present time we do not have the proper equipment.”
What happens to you after death?
To be more specific, this isn’t like the Tibetan Book of the Dead. You are dead, and the process has started. You should be immediately frozen and sent somewhere for storage. In Britain, there’s a group of volunteers from the non-profit Cryonics UK, who freeze the body and organize its transportation to the country where it will be stored. I wonder what their motive is. Purely humanistic, or someone just offering them a discount?
In the first stage, they use dry ice. Nothing special.
When and if your body arrives at the storage facility, it’s filled with a kind of antifreeze that prevents ice crystals from forming. These cause cracks and damage. Then you add liquid nitrogen and the temperature is reduced to -130 Celsius.
It’s so that the cells stoically endure a loss of moisture after death.
Rest in peace now….
In the future, you are supposed to be unfrozen and live again, although it isn’t clear who will pay for your new life.
(to be continued… by the way, we do treat the eyes; they are necessary in this life)
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Text and photos: Sebastian Varo