X-Message-Number: 0024
Subject: Alcor Cryonics Introduction

               Alcor Life Extension Foundation
                 General Information Leaflet
                    by Charles Platt, 1993

                        LIFE UNLIMITED

     One day, many scientists believe, researchers will find
a way to stop and even reverse the aging process. When that
happens, we may be able to extend our lives--in good health--
for centuries.
     For those of us who enjoy life and wish we could have
more of it, this is good news. And yet, we wonder: will we
live long enough to enjoy the scientific breakthroughs that
will save us?

                   THE CONCEPT OF CRYONICS

     Cryonics offers an answer to this problem. Cryonics is
the technology for freezing a person after a terminal illness
or a fatal accident, in the hope that medical science will be
able to revive that person in the future, when life extension
and anti-aging have become a reality.
     Imagine the possibility of having more time--as much as
you need--to do all the things you've always wanted to do.
Imagine the chance of being reunited with the people you care
about, in a future of exciting possibilities. Imagine the
reassurance of knowing that you may be freed from the
limitations of a twentieth-century lifespan.
     Maybe this sounds like science fiction. But many sober,
intelligent people have decided that cryonics could work, and
for them, the chance of an open-ended lifespan has changed
their whole outlook on what it means to be alive.
     Cryonics is available right now, and you don't have to
be a millionaire to afford it. In most cases, it can be
purchased even by people with low to middle incomes.
     The Alcor Foundation is the largest provider of cryonics
services in the world, and has led the way in research and
technical development for more than twenty years. In this
brochure, we'll explain our services and our philosophy as
briefly as possible. If you want more information, additional
literature is listed on the last page of this brochure.

                   HOW MUCH LIFE IS ENOUGH?

     Some people say that they'll be ready to go when it's
their turn to go. They say they're happy to live a natural
     But "natural" means different things in different times.
In the Roman Empire, it was natural to live only 25 years.
Improvements in hygiene, diet, and medicine have tripled that
figure, so today it seems "natural" to live for 75 years or
     Is that really enough? Millions of people seem to want
more. They exercise and take vitamins in the hope of living
as long as possible. And they don't like to feel themselves
growing old.
     Cryonics may seem like a radical idea, but really it's
just another way of giving people what they are already
trying to get, and what they have wanted for thousands of
years: a longer, healthier life.


     To understand why cryonics can work, you need to know
how the body functions on a microscopic level.
     Each of us is made of many kinds of tiny cells. In the
brain, for example, nerve cells pass messages to each other,
which is how we feel and think and see. So long as these
cells are supplied with nutrients by the blood stream, the
cells continue to function, and so do we.
     If the supply of nutrients is shut down for some reason
(perhaps because of a heart attack), our cells can't continue
functioning for long. After about ten minutes, they use up
their nutrient reserves and become damaged by toxic chemical
reactions. This damage is difficult to reverse with current
medical technology, and as a result, life cannot resume.
     However, there is a brief "grace period" before toxic
damage has time to occur. If doctors apply cardio-Pulmonary
Resuscitation (CPR) quickly enough, oxygen is forced into the
lungs and carried to cells throughout the body and the brain,
protecting them from damage.
     At low temperatures, this "grace period" lasts much
longer, because toxic reactions inside the cells occur more
slowly. In the Journal of the American Medical Association
and other respected sources, doctors have described cases of
hypothermia (low body temperature) where the patient was
lifeless, with no heartbeat, no breathing, and no brain
activity, for up to four hours. When the blood is warmed and
primed with oxygen and glucose, the cells start functioning
again. And when that happens, life returns.
     Because of these case histories, traditional definitions
of death are beginning to seem obsolete. We now believe that
if a person's brain cells and brain structure are still
intact, that person is still potentially alive.

                       HOW IS IT DONE?

     Many years ago, cryonic suspension was a crude and
simple procedure. Today, it is a sophisticated operation that
is performed with the aid of a qualified surgeon and a
trained team of experienced technicians.
     Currently, the law prevents anyone from choosing to
undergo cryonic suspension until clinical death has been
pronounced by a physician. At that point, Alcor technicians
immediately inject medications and nutrients that will
preserve and protect the cells. A special organ-preservation
solution is used to prevent deterioration while the patient
is brought to our facility at Riverside, California, in our
special ambulance or by air, if necessary.
     Here, the patient is specially prepared and then placed
in a "dewar," like a giant thermos flask, filled with liquid
nitrogen. Nitrogen is a natural, non-toxic element that is
abundant in the air that we breathe. It is available cheaply
in liquified form from many suppliers, in cylinders which are
delivered to our cryonics facility. When nitrogen is
liquified it has a temperature of 320 degrees below zero
Fahrenheit, so we do not need any refrigeration equipment and
we do not depend on power supplies to keep our patients
frozen. Some of the nitrogen does turn into vapor as heat
from the environment seeps into the dewars, which is why we
need to add more liquid on a routine basis. In this way,
storage is simple, cheap, and reliable.


     This is not currently possible. When cells are frozen,
water seeps out of them and collects between them. As this
water turns to ice, it forms crystals which puncture cell
membranes. Currently, there is no practical way to repair
this damage.
     However, we do our best to minimize it. In Alcor's
operating room, we use open-heart surgical techniques to
infuse the circulatory system with ultra-low-temperature
"cryoprotectants"--chemical agents that act as a sort of
biological antifreeze, replacing much of the intracellular
body water and giving the cells as much protection as
possible from freezing damage.
     Some injury still occurs. Also, very low temperatures
cause fracturing. For these two reasons, scientists are not
yet able to revive a whole mammal after it has been frozen.
     On the other hand, very small human embryos have been
frozen, stored, thawed, implanted, and carried to term by
surrogate mothers. The children are healthy in every way.
Similarly, sperm banks routinely freeze human semen in liquid
nitrogen (using glycerol as a cryoprotectant, just as we do
at Alcor). The sperm are still fertile when they are unfrozen
days or years later.
     In our own laboratory, we have revived dogs that were
cooled to 2 or 3 degrees above freezing and were maintained
in a lifeless state for almost four hours. The dogs have
sustained no measurable damage. We are currently pursuing
more research of this type.
     Our techniques are not perfect, but we are constantly
working to refine them, and we also have reason to believe
that the damage which is caused will be repaired by
technology that is now just starting to be developed.


     The emerging science of nanotechnology promises to build
micro-miniaturized "machines" small enough to be injected
into the blood stream. These tiny robots would build copies
of themselves and then follow a pre-set program to repair
individual cells that have suffered damage--from ice
crystals, age, or illness.
     Nanotechnology has been described in Eric Drexler's
landmark book, Engines of Creation, and is elaborated in his
more technical work, Nanosystems. Laboratories have already
developed simulations of some nanotechnology components, and
many authorities believe that in the twenty-first century,
nanotechnology will be even more important than microchips
are today.
     We cannot predict how long it will take to develope
cell-repair capabilities, or what the limitations of
nanotechnology will be. Consequently, we cannot prove that
cryonics will work. On the other hand, no scientist has ever
proved that cryonics will not work. We feel that it is the
only rational option for transcending the "natural"
limitations on our lives.

                    CRYONICS AND RELIGION

     Some people may object that there may be an afterlife of
some kind, or they may wonder if a revived person would lack
a "soul" or "spirit." If there is a life force, what happens
to it while a patient is in suspension?
     We are not qualified to answer questions of faith of
this kind. However, we can offer some reassurance based on
practical observation. When an embryo is frozen, then warmed
and carried to term, the baby who is born seems as human as
any other baby. If a life force exists, freezing does not
destroy it in cases such as these. Similarly, when doctors
revive a hypothermia casualty who has been clinically dead
for hours, the person seems just as vital as before.
     Remember that life depends on the survival of our cells.
So long as the cells are protected and preserved, life is not
necessarily over. Cryonics is not offering immortality; it is
merely hoping to extend life further than before. In this, it
follows the dictum laid down by many religions, that human
life is sacred and should be cherished and preserved.
     If you are interested in a longer discussion of
religious issues, please ask for our booklet, Cryonics and


     Many people find that after they sign up for eventual
cryonic suspension, they feel much less worried by the
prospect of death. They know that they have taken the only
rational step to give themselves a second chance at life. We
have received letters from Alcor members who literally sleep
better at night since they joined our organization.
     Some members are proud to be at the forefront of a new
movement, actively trying to break down the limits that have
constrained us for all of human existence. They feel they are
helping to make history.
     Most Alcor members are highly intelligent and highly
motivated, with an independent mindset. They often enjoy
getting together to discuss issues and establish friendships.
To enable this, there are regional chapters of Alcor
scattered across the country. Most of these groups hold
monthly meetings at which visitors are welcome.


     Some people worry that freezing patients is a waste of
resources which could benefit other people who are still
alive. In response, we point out that cryonic suspension
costs less than some hospital procedures which prolong life
by only a matter of weeks or months.
     Some people feel that cryonics is a selfish indulgence.
But is it selfish to spend money to cure yourself of a fatal
condition? The fact is, we are all suffering from something
fatal: the aging process. And in a free society, we all have
a right to spend our money to protect ourselves from it in
any way that we can.
     Some people fear that cryonics will worsen the problem
of overpopulation. However, advances in gerontology in the
next 25 to 50 years should have a far bigger impact than the
revival of cryonics patients, who are a tiny minority of the
whole population.
     Will it cause social upheavals when science
finds a cure for the aging process, and people can live for
centuries? Of course it will! But we believe that these
changes will ultimately make the world a better place to live
in, just as modern America (where people live into their
seventies) is a better place to live than ancient Rome (where
people died in their mid-twenties).
     Historically, it has never been possible to suppress
scientific discoveries. Sooner or later, the aging process
will be defeated. Why should we deprive ourselves of a chance
to benefit from this achievement?


     Any cryonics organization has a moral and legal
obligation to attempt to revive its patients. Of course, no
one can guarantee that the organization will stay in business
long enough; but at the Alcor Foundation, we have taken many
steps to insure proper funding and management, so that Alcor
will survive, financially intact, without losing sight of its
     Two-thirds of the money that Alcor receives when a
"whole-body" suspension member is frozen goes into a Patient
Care Trust Fund, to maintain and eventually restore people
who are in suspension. Currently, this fund contains well
over a million dollars.
     We believe that nanotechnology will make the revival of
cryonics patients not only feasible but affordable, as
economies of scale will slash its costs, in the same way that
microchips are now sold for only a tiny fraction of their
initial cost.
     But even if it's feasible and affordable, will people of
the future want to revive patients from the past?
     After twenty years of growth and
advancement, we at Alcor are confident that the
motivation and determination to revive our
patients will be strong, because those patients will still be
Alcor patients, and Alcor will still be staffed and managed
by Alcor members, many of whom--like Alcor's present
employees--will have friends and loved ones that
are in suspension and depending on them.
Furthermore, the future management of Alcor, like the present
management, will be motivated by knowing that so long as they
are vulnerable to disease, accident, or aging, their own
lives may depend on a powerful, ethical organization.


     Maybe not. Immigrants from third-world countries have
adapted to twentieth-century America without too much
trouble. And cryonics patients, frozen today, have a big
advantage: they already understand what technology is, and
how it may develop. Also, remember that if you are revived,
you are unlikely to be alone. Other cryonics patients should
be with you as you explore a new world full of exciting


     The Alcor Foundation is a non-profit corporation. Alcor
does have some full-time salaried employees, but no one has
ever become rich through cryonics. This is because almost all
the money from members and patients is spent on clinical
procedures, administrative overhead, research, and the
Patient Care Trust Fund. An exact breakdown of the costs of
cryonic suspension has been published and is available for
     Cryonics is not just a business, but a dream pursued by
dedicated people who are determined to do everything they can
to prolong life. Alcor is grateful to the many volunteers who
donate their time because they believe that cryonics offers a
real chance of seeing the future. Alcor's finances will soon
undergo an exhaustive independent audit, the results of which
will be publicly available.
     We have been scrutinized by the local coroner and by
health officials, because cryonics is a new procedure which
is unfamiliar to bureaucrats. Ultimately, we had to defend
the legality of cryonics. After a landmark decision, we can
now say that our county in California is the only place in
America where the right to conduct cryonic suspensions has
been confirmed in a court of law.
     Our facility has been inspected dozens of times by local
authorities and by print and TV journalists. If you would
like a free tour, please call our toll-free number, and we'll
be glad to set up an appointment.

                    HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

     The bad news is that the cost of cryonic suspension at
Alcor ranges from $41,000 to $120,000. The good news is that
this can be paid by taking out a life-insurance policy that
names Alcor as the beneficiary.
     We are not insurance providers, but we do know that a
person aged around thirty is usually able to obtain a $50,000
whole-life policy for under $500 per year. Most policies of
this type accumulate the annual payments with interest. This
means that at any time, you can cancel your policy and get a
refund of your accumulated savings.
     We charge a one-time fee of $100 for signing up with
Alcor, and there is an annual Emergency Response Fee of $288,
which enables us to fly a team of Transport Technicians
anywhere in the country if a member suffers a fatal accident
or a terminal illness. This fee may seem high, but Alcor is
the only cryonics organization which has demonstrated an
Emergency Response capability on many occasions and in many
different locations across the United States and abroad. This
capability is expensive to maintain with such a small
membership base, but our members have told us that they feel
a great sense of security knowing that we are always on call,
twenty-four hours a day.
     Please note that additional Alcor members living within
one household pay a reduced fee of $144 per year. For members
who are minors, the annual fee is only $72.

                     SHOULD YOU SIGN UP?

     Only you can decide. But if cryonics does appeal to you,
there are three important reasons who you should act
     1. We prefer not to accept last-minute cases. We have
learned from experience that "last-minute" sign-ups can cause
extreme legal difficulties, especially when relatives dislike
the idea of cryonics or feel that their loved one was too
anxious to make a calm, rational decision. Since our first
loyalty is to our patients who are in suspension, we cannot
risk legal entanglements that might compromise Alcor's
financial stability. Consequently, if you wait till the last
minute, you probably won't be able to sign up for suspension.
     2. It costs more to buy life insurance as you grow
older, and the curve becomes much steeper above the age of
forty. Also, if you put off buying insurance, and you develop
a serious health problem, this may make you uninsurable.
     If you intend to pay for your suspension via an
insurance policy, we advise you to do it right away. If you
change your mind about cryonics later on, you can always
reassign your policy to a different beneficiary, or cash in a
whole-life policy for a refund.
     3. Signing up for cryonic suspension is psychologically
challenging. It's a serious step which requires careful
thought. Some people like the idea of cryonics, but they put
off doing anything about it, because it's too much trouble,
or they don't have enough time. If you have a serious
interest, we urge you not to procrastinate. Give us a call,
and we'll discuss the technicalities, the legal paperwork,
and the psychological factors that sometimes make it seem
more difficult to sign up than it really is.
     Call toll-free, 1-800-367-2228, anytime. Our staff will
be happy to answer all your questions.

     For more information about alcor and cryonics, you may
want to subscribe to Cryonics, our monthly magazine. For
first-time subscribers, twelve issues cost only $15. This
includes a free copy of Cryonics: Reaching For Tomorrow, a
detailed illustrated handbook containing over 100 pages. (The
handbook is also available separately for $7.95.) Send checks
or money orders to the Alcor Foundation, 12327 Doherty
Street, Riverside, CA 92503. Or use your Visa or MasterCard
and order by phone at 1-800-367-2228.

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