Cryonics - Why I Chose Cryopreservation.
Why I Became a Cryonicist
In 2008, I became a Lifetime member of the Cryonics Institute and subsequently set up a cryo-preservation contract, a legally-binding agreement which means that my physical body will be maintained indefinitely in cryostasis, (ie. stored in liquid nitrogen).
My body will remain there until it can be successfully re-animated and fully restored to health using age-reversing nanomedicines and nanotechnologies. Any organic damage will therefore be repaired.
To many people, this sounds like science-fiction. Yet right now, at this very moment, research into cryonics, nanomedicine and age-reversal technologies using stem cells and DNA are pushing back the boundaries of what was once assumed impossible. Organisations such as Timeship, the SENS Foundation, Alcor, the Cryonics Institute and the Methuselah Foundation are at the forefront of this ground-breaking scientific research.
But I'm not going to attempt to write about science here. I am not a scientist, and am happy to leave the task of explaining exactly how these processes may become possible to those who are qualified to do so.
Instead, I'm going to write about some of the reactions and questions which I've received when I announced my plans for cryo-preservation to family and friends.
The views expressed here are entirely my own, and may not necessarily be shared by any other cryonicist or cryonics organisation. Cryonicists are as diverse as any other group of people, and so are their points of view.
What Does Cryopreservation Cost?
One of the most belligerent myths about cryo-preservation is that it is expensive. It truly is not!
Most cryonicists fund their plans via an ordinary life insurance policy. The cost of this will vary, usually depending on the age and any pre-existing health issues with the policy holder.
Difference cryo facilities charge different fees and offer different services.
Also, insurance companies charges can vary wildly, depending on age, health, location and the policies and profit margin of each business. As with all business transactions, it pays to shop around and read the small print. If in doubt, get legal advice.
Many countries now have cryonics support groups, which can better answer individual, localised questions relating to costs.
However, in general the monthly cost of life insurance to cover cryo-preservation is equivalent to that of one average take-away meal.
The Crynonics Institute
Is Cryonics Legal?
My cryo-preservation contract is entirely legal and legally-binding.
When my physical body is declared dead by conventional medical standards, it will be kept chilled and transported to the Cryonics Institute in Michigan, USA. Both my Will and my medical records mention this intention, and request that an autopsy is not to be carried out. However, if this is over-ruled, (or unrecognised until it's too late), then cryo-preservation will go ahead anyway. It is hoped that nanomedicines and related developing technologies will be able to repair any damage caused by an autopsy.
As the contract involves the transference of funds from one country to another, it is protected by a Trust fund. My two trustees are also members of the Cryonics Institute, and they too have cryo-preservation contracts in place. The Trust prevents the insurance money from being diverted to any other beneficiary, (such as a relative who might try to contest it.)
What If Cryonics Doesn't Work?
All sciences progress, each new discovery standing on the shoulders of those which went before. Hospitals now routinely utilise technologies and procedures which would have been dismissed as too fanciful even a few years ago.
For example, not so long ago if your heart stopped, you died. Now numerous people have 'died' and been revived.
Another example is the enormous improvements in the treatment of major diseases such as cancer. Not too long ago, the very word felt like an automatic death sentence. This is no longer the case, and further breakthroughs are occurring all the time.
It's not so much a case of if science can achieve something, but rather of when.
And should all scientific progress fail - which is highly unlikely anyway - then those of us who are suspended in cryostasis will be none the wiser.
On the other hand, if cryo-preservation does work and we cryonicists are successfully reanimated utilising nanomedicines and similar technologies, consider the amazing futures which we will have secured for ourselves by being pioneers!
Equipment for Preparing a Cryo-Patient
Awaking to an Alien World?
Who knows how many decades will pass before a patient in cryostasis can be revived and healed? A person might find themselves penniless and adrift in an alien world which they can't relate to, where everything and everyone once familiar has long since gone - or so one worried relative suggested.
Personally, I'd much prefer to retrain and get a job than to die.
Also, there is a debate about the future possibility of placing personal funds into a Trust, so these can be reclaimed upon reanimation.
On re-animating from cryostasis, a person is bound to find that technology has moved on, just as very few people today still use an abacus or eight-track cassette tapes. On the other hand, we still enjoy music composed hundreds of years ago, and treasure art, sculpture and literature which was created thousands of years ago. So some things will be different, others perhaps not so.
Many cryonicists know each other personally and meet up for dinner and a chat, just like everyone else. When we're all re-animated, we will be able to do something similar once again and catch up on news.
We'd love you to join us!
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An Over- Crowded Future?
If no-one ever died, due to age-reversing nanomedicines and improved DNA-healing technologies, how would we all fit on an already over-populated planet? Several people asked me this question.
Look up. What do you see? An entire universe stretching out around you. It's so vast it can't be measured. If the universe had a size limit, there would have to be something beyond that boundary in order to define that boundary's existence - proving therefore that the universe is infinite.
We already have an international space station. There are plans to build a space station on the Moon. In time, not only will this project come to fuition but so will many others like it.
If a human mind can imagine an event, then that event is possible given time, perseverance and sufficient resources. The idea of space stations and outer-space industries is hardly new. We're just waiting for the next projects to get underway.
Not everyone will want to live forever. This is their choice. It is not one I understand, really, as that philosophy is alien to me - but each to their own.
It is my choice to do my utmost to give myself the opportunity to benefit from future sciences, hence my plans for cryo-preservation. I look forward to discovering a brave new world - or several brave new worlds, even!
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© 2010 Adele Cosgrove-Bray