Organ donation versus cryonics

post by Snowyowl · 2011-03-13T16:08:52.588Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 14 comments

Simultaneously signing up for organ donation and cryonics versus only cryonics. Does having less organs decrease the likelihood of cryonics (including revival) working? Is it a good idea to have only your head frozen anyway, to save on electricity and storage? Do the benefits of organ donation outweigh any costs it could possibly incur, since organ donation is known to work?



I'm an organ donor because signing up was quick and easy. I'm not signing up for cryonics, because I anticipate that my family and close friends will have a harder time overcoming their grief if my body is not actually present at the funeral.


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comment by beriukay · 2011-03-14T02:51:31.156Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

because I anticipate that my family and close friends will have a harder time overcoming their grief if my body is not actually present at the funeral.

Would you mind discussing this more? I find it hard to believe that this could be your real reason for not doing it. For instance, if there were ways to display your body in some kind of cryocasket, wouldn't that give them the funeral they wanted without destroying your brain simply for their satisfaction?

This is a personal disposition, but when I attended an open casket funeral for a good friend, seeing his corpse made it worse for me. I had something akin to the uncanny valley reaction, and had difficulty accepting that it was him. It didn't help that he took two bullets to the face, but it still felt very wrong to be in that room with him. I don't really see how people get any positive feelings from such a funeral.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2011-03-14T03:38:48.116Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't really see how people get any positive feelings from such a funeral.

When my father died, my brother and I both went to the mortuary before the funeral and insisted on seeing the body. (Open caskets are not a Jewish custom.)

The morticians were extremely reluctant -- there had been an autopsy, and he was cut open and etc., and they hadn't prepared the body for viewing, yadda yadda yadda -- but they eventually gave in.

I can't speak for my brother, but for me there was a definite, and strong, release of emotional tension associated with seeing the body. I wouldn't call it "positive," exactly -- I can't imagine a positive experience at my father's funeral -- but I'm glad I did it.

Of course, none of that has anything to do with cryonics -- we would have done exactly the same thing, with (I suspect) the same effect, had his brain been scooped out.

I'm not sure the effect would have been the same had his body been in a "cryocasket." Maybe; maybe not.

Not that that's a reason for him not to do it, either way.

comment by jimrandomh · 2011-03-13T20:33:19.098Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Unfortunately, the medical establishment is hostile to cryonics, and signing up as an organ donor may leave them with a claim to your body after you die, which increases the probability that your brain will be left to rot. It should be possible to both be cryopreserved and be an organ donor, but talk to your cryonics organization's lawyers first before putting your name on any form that could affect how your body is handled. The relevant laws and procedures vary from place to place.

comment by JenniferRM · 2011-03-13T17:42:26.190Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This is something I've wondered about for a while. My understanding is that cryonic preservation works much better if your body is perfused with cryo-protectant using the existing heart and blood vessels to get the current best known mixture (that minimizes freezing damage) to all the nooks and crannies of the brain, and at the same time to all the nooks and crannies of the rest of the body.

I don't understand the details that well, but I think they put a shunt into a major vein or artery to take out blood and put in the cryo-protectant and then pump your heart. This might do something to the organs to make them less fit for donation?

This history of Alcor research from 1977 to 1994 indicates that dogs could be perfused, held at 4 Celsius for several hours, and then have their blood run back in so they could be revived. They reported no apparent brain damage so it is likely that the cryop-protectant doesn't do a lot of damage to organs if it does very much. My minimally educated guess would be that organ donation is still possible, just slightly more complex so that the procedures satisfice for a greater number of positive outcomes than before.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-03-13T17:49:09.106Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Is it possible to set things up so that if I die in conditions where cryo-preservation is pointless (e.g. mad cow disease or a car accident where my head goes splat) then my organs get donated and otherwise I keep them?

comment by EchoingHorror · 2011-03-13T18:40:49.298Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You'd have to ask an attorney who knows the relevant laws in your area. Since there are opt-in and opt-out organ donation norms, you may have to opt-out but give someone trustworthy the power to opt you in, in a will, in time for your organs to be viable, if allowed by law. Cryogenics companies won't mind not storing you if you work that out contractually and in advance; otherwise it would look bad that they didn't fulfill their obligation.

comment by beriukay · 2011-03-14T02:38:21.887Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There are conditions on the sign-up form, at least for Alcor. I checked the option that if my brain was slag anyway, then don't preserve me.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-10-12T02:50:25.895Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do the selfish gains of organ donation outweight the costs? Not actually sure if I can as a MSM, but I suppose this could be a useful discussion for others too. Given most people are interested in donating but few do it cause they don't 'get around it'. I wonder why not for profits don't host organ donation workshops in iibraries?

I love how some people say 'The gift of life taught my life is a gift'.

comment by DanArmak · 2011-03-16T20:37:31.714Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Does having less organs decrease the likelihood of cryonics (including revival) working?

Trivially, yes. If it were the other way around, cryonicists would deliberately remove organs prior to preservation.

comment by Eneasz · 2011-03-14T22:13:17.460Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It wouldn't be possible under some organizations. I'm signed up with CI, and part of the legal process is becoming a "Whole Body Doner" directly to CI. Anything less and you risk legal trouble with getting your body placed into their care in time.

comment by CharlesR · 2011-03-13T21:54:04.647Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Whole body is more in line with "cryonics as medical procedure". In this view, cryonics and organ donation are mutually exclusive.

comment by lsparrish · 2011-03-14T19:09:50.024Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The main medical justification for whole body is to preserve the parts of the nervous system (and any other information-encoding tissues) that are not in the brain, for any additional fidelity that may add when reconstructing the personality. Transplantable organs might not be valued for this purpose as highly as the gut and spinal column, so there is room for a spectrum of preferences here.

comment by EchoingHorror · 2011-03-13T19:08:13.575Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There are also synthetic organs which may be used anyway, in the scenario where you're revived from cryopreservation, cured of all damage, and go on living normally. If the process of preserving someone isn't harmed by organ harvesting, I don't see a reason not to donate.

As long as you can get around how harvesting takes extra time, allowing further decay and more opportunities for neurostructural damage, that seems right. Maybe partial preservation for the brain that doesn't damage the organs, then harvesting, then full preservation? Unless organs can be harvested after full preservation, in which case one shouldn't mind others using them to live for a while and getting new organs made with future technology.

Too bad we can't have our organs sold and the proceeds invested to pay the medical expenses of our future selves. Or can we...

comment by CarlShulman · 2011-03-14T01:26:13.320Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

If the process of preserving someone isn't harmed by organ harvesting, I don't see a reason not to donate.

As a result of legal-bureaucratic issues, they are mutually incompatible.