Cryonics before natural death. List of companies?

post by Hafurelus · 2019-06-12T18:53:26.868Z · score: 26 (9 votes) · LW · GW · 8 comments

This is a question post.


    12 avturchin
    7 G Gordon Worley III

I really don't want to wait those who are dear to me or myself to get Alzheimer's and only then, after our natural death, to be cryopreserved.

I want to choose the moment when I'm preserved. However, it seems like it is not allowed by Alcor, Cryonics institute, and many other companies due to legislation. I cannot even kill myself and be preserved right afterwards.

Serge Fague wrote something along the lines "I'd rather preserve myself right after I'm diagnosed with this", so I think there are companies (and countries) that can preserve you if you ask them.

My question is - do such companies exist, and if yes, can you name them?


answer by avturchin · 2019-06-12T20:14:19.445Z · score: 12 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The thing you are looking for is called cryothanasia and first case has happened recently. California Man Becomes the First ‘Death With Dignity’ Patient to Undergo Cryonic Preservation

comment by Hafurelus · 2019-06-12T20:56:08.944Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for the info, but I think that Alzheimer's is not considered a terminal life-threatening disease, unlike the case of cancer that you presented.

Therefore, I was asking about companies which could apply cryonics without any mandatory terminal diseases.

answer by G Gordon Worley III · 2019-06-13T19:44:21.294Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Aside from the case where you may have access to euthanasia, the answer is no. The issue is that cryonics, where it is legally allowed, is considered a mortuary procedure rather than a medical procedure. The reasons for doing this are a bit involved, but can be summed up by saying it was easier to get legal approval for a novel procedure on dead bodies than on live ones.

In theory it seems likely you could get a better preservation by anesthetizing a live patient, replacing their blood, and slowing cooling the body and letting them die slowly while freezing rather than dying first and then starting the cooling process, but this is extremely legally complicated because it both involves a live patient, so it's a medical procedure, and it kills the patient, so it's euthanasia (or so we hope; if it wasn't painless you definitely wouldn't be allowed to do it!). This would require a level of acceptance of cryonics we have no reason to believe is forthcoming.

So we are left with the case where you have to die first before being cryo-preserved. However, it's even a bit more complicated than that, because how you die matters. Mortuary procedures can't begin until a patient has a completed death certificate from a doctor in most places, and in some cases you can't formally complete that process without an autopsy to determine cause of death, especially in cases that look suspicious like a murder or suicide. In fact, without modern assisted suicide laws, suicide generally requires an autopsy by law, which will of course ruin your chance of preservation.

The only known, reliable way of doing what you propose (and I know of cases in there past where it successfully happened), is that a patient with a terminal illness entered a hospice near a cryonics facility with a cryonics team on standby and then refused all food and water. It takes several days to die this way depending on body composition, and at time of death the doctor on staff can quickly mark that you died of natural causes (I don't entirely understand why this doesn't count as suicide, but it apparently doesn't) and the procedure can begin within minutes. That, to the best of my knowledge, is the state-of-the-art in cryonic preservation: cryocide by starvation/dehydration.

comment by Hafurelus · 2019-06-13T20:10:39.950Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Did anyone consider doing (let's call the version that I've described as) live-cryonics in a country that doesn't care about any of this and then to transport a frozen body to the main storage? Or it doesn't change anything?

comment by G Gordon Worley III (gworley) · 2019-06-13T23:21:09.991Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I've not heard of anyone trying this. I imagine it's a bad idea for a couple reasons:

  • most would-be patients live in countries where what you want is illegal
  • those would-be patients' access to cryonics depends largely on cryonics organizations being in good standing with the local government in case they die unexpectedly or don't want to travel far
  • even if you found a jurisdiction where you could do what you want it might have repercussions back where the organization is based and stores the brains/bodies because the home country/state/municipality might forbid import due to how the brain/body was obtained
  • the countries where would-be patients live might forbid them from contracting for such a service in a location where it is legal (compare the way some countries require their citizens follow national laws when abroad, and that such citizens can be prosecuted for actions they took in foreign nations)

I think if you wanted to do this you would need to find a jurisdiction that would be okay with this and be also otherwise suitable for basing a cryonics operation. My guess is the set of places that meet both criteria is empty. And this ignoring the patient access issues I mentioned. Since the current market for cryonics is quite small, my guess is that there just isn't enough demand to make this happen, since I'm sure with enough demand you'd have the money to make a favorable jurisdiction suitable for basing a cryonics operation in.


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comment by dvasya · 2019-06-13T03:17:56.345Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There aren't that "many" other companies. Talk to KrioRus, I know they explored setting up a cryonics facility in Switzerland at some point.

comment by Donald Hobson (donald-hobson) · 2019-06-13T16:19:14.339Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Cryonics is a sufficiently desperate last grasp at life, one with a fairly small chance of success, that I'm not sure that this is a good idea. It would be a good idea if you had a disease that would make you brain dead, and then kill you.

It might be a good idea if your expect any life conditional on revival to be Really good. It would also depend on how much Alzheimers destroyed personality rather than shutting it down. (has the neural structure been destroyed, or is it sitting in the brain but not working?)

comment by Richard_Kennaway · 2019-06-13T16:35:12.099Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · LW · GW
has the neural structure been destroyed, or is it sitting in the brain but not working?

Alzheimer's destroys the brain. The only cure is never to get it.