X-Message-Number: 1148
Date: 16 Aug 92 19:40:25 EDT
Subject: AlcorIN #5, Part 1.


July/August 1992

Editor:  Richard Shock


Since Steve Bridge will be attending an Alcor Board Meeting in Riverside, 
California the second Sunday in September, Alcor Indiana has moved its own 
meeting ahead to the NEXT Sunday.  Keep September 20 free on your date 
book and come out to meet us!

                                   *  *  *

by Richard Shock

    lux-u-ry n. habitual indulgence in expensive food, clothes, comforts 
etc., "a life of luxury";  something enjoyable, relatively costly, but not 
indispensable, "smoking is his only luxury";  something voluptuously 
enjoyed, "the luxury of a hot bath when one is tired";  abundance of rich 
comforts, "lapped in luxury" [O.F. luxurie]

    -- from Webster's Dictionary

    Not long ago I was speaking with a friend, a physician at a local 
university hospital, when he noticed my Alcor emergency bracelet.  After 
advancing dozens of incorrect Sherlock Holmes-style deductions as to my 
"illness," he finally surrendered and asked why I wore the tag on my 
wrist.  I explained about Alcor and cryonic suspension.

    His immediate reaction was incredulity.  When at last I convinced him 
of my sincerity, he dismissed the topic with:  "The odds are a million to 
one this will work.  I guess it's the ultimate luxury."

    That stung.  For me, the word "luxury" had always been linked with 
such adjectives as "extravagant," "self-indulgent," and "superfluous."  I 
couldn't reconcile this judgement with the life-and-death value I placed 
on my Alcor membership.

    The key to my friend's unfortunate declaration lay in his skepticism.  
"The odds are a million to one this will work," he said -- that is, for 
all practical purposes he believed it would NOT work.  For him, 
cryonicists must've seemed like throwbacks to the ancient Egyptians, 
embalming their dead in elaborate though ultimately meaningless rituals.

    As a mere funeral arrangement, cryonics would indeed be extravagant, 
self-indulgent, and superfluous.  But funerals are deemed luxuries only 
because the resources involved are "wasted" on the dead.  (Though I don't 
deny that such ceremonies may be of some comfort to surviving relatives 
and friends.)  Cryonic suspensions aren't funerals, and cryonics patients 
aren't "dead."  Death, as defined by cryonicists, is a condition where no 
conceivable technology could infer a body's functioning structure from its 
current condition.  Cryonicists strive to arrest the long PROCESS of death 
at an early stage, where future medicine might have some reasonable chance 
of reversing it.

    Cryonicists aren't necessarily BELIEVERS (whether in technology, the 
future, or human nature), but they do calculate the odds for cryonics' 
success at much better than a million to one.

    At what point does an unlikely precaution become a luxury?  Let's say 
that ten years ago you joined a dojo and began studying Goju-Ryu Karate 
for self defense.  If you live in the United States and are fairly 
intelligent, the odds are very good you'll never be in a situation where 
this skill is useful.  Even if you do find yourself in a dangerous spot, 
chances are still good you won't have the time, opportunity, or presence 
of mind to apply your martial arts training.

    But what if once -- only once -- your life was threatened and you used 
your knowledge of karate to save yourself?  Would an investment of ten 
years' training be worthwhile if it were employed no more than a single 
time?  Would ANY precaution, regardless of the expense, be worthwhile if 
it saved you JUST ONCE?

    If you value your life, you probably agree that it would.

    There are countless precautions you can take to protect yourself:  
learn to swim, take out medical insurance, wear seatbelts, give up 
smoking, exercise regularly, and so on, ad infinitum.  Everyone must make 
a personal value judgement about these options, calculating for himself 
the odds that they might someday come in handy and comparing the possible 
losses to possible gains.  "Luxury" options would be those where the 
probability of use is low, the loss maximal, and the gain minimal.

    There is a one-hundred-percent certainty that sometime in the next 
century I will undergo the process of dying;  I know I'll have use for my 
membership in a cryonics organization, even if there's no easy way of 
knowing that membership will help me.  The potential losses for me amount 
to a little time and money.  The potential gains are simple:  my life, and 
the endless possibilities life may hold.

    You can survive without luxuries.  You won't survive without cryonics.

                                   *  *  *

By Steve Bridge

Part III

    [Note: The previous installment left off in fall of 1978.  But I 
discovered I had missed some important items, so I need to back up to 1977 
again.  Bear with me. -- SWB]

    1977.  Jimmy Carter was President of the United States.  ROOTS was the 
television phenomenon of the year.  People in Indianapolis and across the 
Northeastern United States experienced the most dangerous blizzard of the 

    Changes were taking place in many parts of the world that would lead 
to the overturning of the political and social pattern of the world that 
we had known in 1950.  An old order was dying and a new one was waiting to 
take its place.

    Dead were Wernher von Braun, Charlie Chaplin, Groucho Marx, Bing 
Crosby, Maria Callas, and Elvis Presley (probably).

    The space shuttle had its first test flight in 1977.  Motion pictures 
changed forever during the summer of STAR WARS (the movie, not the defense 

    Legionnaires Disease was the big medical mystery.  HIV was here but 

    Drs. Edwards and Steptoe in England were pursuing the "test-tube baby" 
research, and in October they implanted a fertilized egg into a young 
woman.  Nine months later, a healthy Louise Brown was born.

    In November, Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat made his historic peace 
mission to Israel to meet with long-time foe, Menachim Begin.   The 
transition to Black majority rule began in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).  The 
Panama Canal Treaty was signed.  A balding young agricultural official in 
the Soviet Union was rising rapidly through the ranks.  The following year 
Mikhail Gorbachev became the Soviet Central Committee Secretary for 

    And in the United States, completely unknown to the vast majority of 
Americans, a revolution was taking place in an underground activity called 
cryonics.  (Actually, we weren't TRYING to keep it underground;  it's just 
that no one would listen.)  Some of this change was noted in issues of THE 
IMMORTALIST, the newsletter of Robert Ettinger's Cryonics Association (now 
called the Immortalist Society).  More news was available in a new 
publication, LIFE EXTENSION MAGAZINE, started in March, 1977 by Patrick 
Dewey.  (After a few issues it changed its name to LONG LIFE MAGAZINE, to 
avoid conflict with another similarly named publication.)

    The most visible portion of the cryonics changes were taking place in 
California and revolved around a young UCLA researcher and thoracic 
surgeon (although not a physician) named Jerry Leaf.  As I discussed last 
issue, Jerry's entry into cryonics brought medical and research expertise 
into a field which had been desperately lacking in this kind of knowledge.

    Jerry's first step into the field was a dramatic one.  He agreed to 
lead a team in a dog hypothermia (cool-down) and blood washout experiment 
in July, 1977 at the Trans Time facility in Northern California.  Saul 
Kent, in his discussion of the event, called this the first major research 
project ever carried out by a cryonics organization.  Jerry Leaf and Art 
Quaife, President of Trans Time, also wrote reports on this experiment, 
published in the November/December issue of LONG LIFE MAGAZINE.

    In September, Jerry Leaf and Kip Grant formed the non-profit ICE 
(Institute for Cryonics Education, later to change its name to Institute 
for Cryobiological Extension) in Southern California to promote cryonics 

    Also in September, (reported in THE IMMORTALIST, Nov. 1977), Alcor -- 
presumably led by Fred Chamberlain and Jerry, perfused and froze a dog.  
"The procedure apparently followed that used when Col. Frederick 
Chamberlain II was frozen . . ."  The dog's head was later sent to a 
physician for evaluation, including electron microscopy, the first such 
cryonics testing that I know of.

    Manrise Corporation (the for-profit suspension-performing partner of 
Alcor) and Trans Time officially merged on October 1, 1977.  Trans Time 
contracted to provide Alcor with suspension services.  Jerry Leaf agreed 
to head Trans Time's Southern California team (which began training in 
1978) and to provide other services and advice to the Northern California 

    And in Indianapolis, in July of 1977, Steve Bridge, Mike Darwin, Allen 
Lopp, Joseph Allen, and other young cryonicists formed the Institute for 
Advanced Biological Studies (IABS).

    Our first contribution to the field was an article by Mike in the 
July/August issue of LIFE EXTENSION MAGAZINE:  "The Anabolocyte:  a 
Biological Approach to Repairing Cryoinjury."  This article (like related 
speculations by Robert Ettinger, Jerome White, and Thomas Donaldson) 
anticipated nanotechnology by describing artificially engineered white 
blood cells that would go cell by cell to effect repairs.  This article 
gained Mike a great deal of positive attention and provided me with the 
first of many opportunities to help Mike edit his writing.  Actually, this 
first editing job was pretty painful for both of us.  I felt stupid 
because Mike had to keep explaining elementary terminology to me;  and I 
frustrated him greatly by insisting  that he make the article intelligible 
instead of modeling it after the bad scientific writing he was seeing in 

    Up until the fall of 1977, cryonics was still only intellectual and 
academic to me, even though I was spending many hours a week discussing 
it, reading about it, and planning for it.  Actual FROZEN PEOPLE were in a 
galaxy far far away.  But I was about to get a lesson in the way 
suspension "lightning" can strike.

    During the summer of that year, Robert Ettinger's Cryonics Institute 
(the suspension organization partner of the Cryonics Association) in 
Michigan knew they had a very sick member, someone who could die quite 
soon and become their first suspension case.  That someone was Rhea 
Chaloff Ettinger, Bob's mother.  Although Bob's book, THE PROSPECT OF 
IMMORTALITY, had started the cryonics movement, Bob had very little 
experience in preparing for and doing an actual suspension.  In 
comparison, Mike was an old hand.  So Mike spent quite a bit of time 
speaking with Bob on the phone and writing up lists of equipment, set-up 
schemes, and procedures.  Mike agreed that, as long as CI did the 
preparation that he asked, he would fly to Detroit to assist when Mrs. 
Ettinger died.

    I had been helping Mike a little in his preparations;  but I admit I 
felt no sense of urgency -- until 2:00 in the morning one Sunday in 
September when Mike called me to say, "Ettinger's mother is dead.  I'm 
flying to Detroit.  I need your help.  Get over here now!"

    My first terrified, half-awake thought was that he wanted me to go 
WITH him to Detroit and handled "dead bodies," an action I was emotionally 
unprepared for.  I was relieved to find out he didn't think I was ready 
for it either; although in retrospect, I wish I HAD gone along just to 
have gotten the first one over with.  The imagination is always worse than 
the reality.  So I drove over to his house in the darkness of early 
morning, feeling a bit like Dr. Frankenstein's assistant.  His parents and 
I got things packed up, while Mike made phone calls to cryonicists around 
the country for last-minute advice and encouragement.  He was especially 
worried that, since this was CI's first suspension, the Detroit people 
wouldn't be emotionally ready to handle it or physically prepared.

    When Mike arrived in Detroit, he discovered, to his deep frustration, 
that many things he had asked for had not been done.  He did the best he 
could, but he was once more restrained by the low level of medical and 
technical experience among cryonicists.  Mike railed about this for weeks 
afterward and did his best to impress on the rest of us in Indianapolis 
that we had to work faster, that we had to be PREPARED for emergencies.  
Any of us could die at any time and we weren't ready.

    I should point out here that Mike Darwin is what I call an "active 
paranoid."  To Mike, the sky is always falling and it's going to land a 
lot harder than an acorn.  Civilization is collapsing and so is his body--
at just about the same speed.  While a steady diet of this could lead to 
terminal depression (in his listeners, that is), Mike is never content to 
merely complain.  He insists on DOING something to prevent the disaster.  
This attitude has been very useful to cryonics.  Mike can see nearly every 
possible way a suspension can go wrong -- and then he works to fix it.  It 
is never a good thing to ignore his concerns.  And if you're standing 
beside him at one of those moments, don't expect to get home early.

    In thinking about that Michigan suspension fifteen years later, I 
understand much better why the CI people were unprepared.  It is likely 
that NO ONE is ever ready for their first suspension.  The number of 
details necessary to prepare for a human freezing seems countless, and the 
number of ways to make a mess of things is nearly as large.  In many ways, 
things are improving for Alcor since we are doing more suspensions (5 this 
year so far) and preparation is becoming built-in (though recent 
suspension reports indicate that there are still many surprises and that 
new mistakes are made on each case).

    But in 1977 and for years afterwards, one might only be involved in a 
suspension once every several years.  It is hard to force yourself to work 
constantly at preparing for something that might never come.  Well, sure, 
you know it will happen "eventually," but the ability to deny the reality 
of death is so ingrained in us as humans that it is hard to overcome even 
when we are conscious of it.  We don't WANT that person to die;  we can't 
imagine that they could actually disappear from our lives;  so it is very 
difficult to imagine and plan for it happening.  Why do so many people die 
without life insurance or wills?  Who have so many people who knew and 
understand cryonics failed to sign up even after they knew they had 
cancer?  Why do we have so many problems convincing some patients (and 
their families) that they are terminally ill and are very likely to die 
soon?  Death is hard to think about.

    In every suspension that I have been involved with, I have seen the 
procrastination and lack of planning that this denial results in.  I have 
observed it in myself;  I have witnessed it in others with more experience 
and training than myself.  I discovered how complacent I had become 
recently when I was called in on a standby, without having been part of a 
standby or suspension for two years.  I had been part of a training class;  
but a pig just isn't human.  Procrastination is a normal human behavior 
under the best of circumstances.  When we combine it with the also-normal 
tendency to avoid thinking about death, we can become paralyzed.  One of 
our most important jobs as cryonicists is to encourage each other to get 
past that barrier, to keep planning, to keep our skills and equipment at 
top level.

    While there were many problems with the 1977 Michigan suspension, I 
can see many long-term benefits.  It woke up a lot of people.  I'm sure 
that the Michigan people were much better prepared for the next suspension 
they had to do.  I certainly began to realize just how complicated and 
fragile this undertaking was.  And even now, I can see the memory of that 
and other early suspensions in Mike Darwin's eyes when he pushes us to 
learn even more in training classes, to plan our transports in greater 
detail, to think about everything that could go wrong -- to be better than 
the best Boy Scouts -- to be PREPARED.  And I know that as long as people 
never forget the past, my own future suspension will have a greater chance 
of success.

    In 1978 the world showed more institutions changing that had remained 
the same for hundreds of years.  With the sudden deaths of Pope Paul VI 
and Pope John Paul I, the first non-Italian Pope in 450 years was chosen, 
John Paul II.

    In June, Blacks were given equal rights as Mormons.  In September, the 
Camp David Summit between Begin, Sadat, and Carter took place.  
Proposition 13 cut 7 billion dollars off the property tax revenue in 
California.  Lost to the human race were the minds and talents of Norman 
Rockwell, San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, 
Margaret Mead, and Golda Meir.

    One of the big summer sellers was a book by David Rorvik entitled IN 
HIS IMAGE, about a man who had himself cloned.  It was probably a hoax, 
but stirred a lot of interest in genetics all the same.

    And on November 29, 909 members of the People's Temple, including 
leader Jim Jones (an Indianapolis native), committed suicide in Guyana.

    The news in the cryonics community was much better.  In March, the 
Cryonics Institute bought a building in the Detroit metropolitan area.

    Also in March, nearly 300 people attended the Alcor Life Extension 
Conference in Los Angeles, directed by Saul Kent.  This must have been 
quite a weekend, because the list of participants sounds like a "Who's 
Who" of life extension and cryonics:  Roy L. Walford, Jerry Leaf, Alan 
Harrington, Robert Anton Wilson, Bernard Strehler, Richard Cutler, Paul 
Segall, Art Quaife, Fred Chamberlain, Benjamin Schloss, Keith Henson (long 
before he became a cryonicist), Robert Prehoda, and Timothy Leary.

    Around the same time, Cryonics Institute announced that it was doing 
tests with non-vacuum-insulated storage, which they thought would 
eventually outperform the standard stainless steel vacuum dewars.

    In June, 1978, Jerry Leaf established Cryovita Laboratories at 4030 N. 
Palm in Fullerton, California, which was also the home of Alcor for 
several years until the Riverside facility was built.  The building was 
small;  but it had a real operating room (also very small).  A few weeks 
later, Jerry and his Southern California team were able to perform a 
suspension on a Trans Time patient, Sam Berkowitz.  Mr. Berkowitz had died 
suddenly in New York.  He had been packed in ice very soon after death;  
but since he was not a signed-up suspension member, and since Jerry's 
laboratory was not fully set up, there were many delays.  Still, it was 
the first real test of Jerry's new surgical procedures and equipment.  
Just as importantly, Jerry insisted on publishing a detailed technical 
account of the suspension, because it was necessary to document the 
procedures used and problems encountered.  This emphasis on evaluation and 
improvement was as much a key for cryonics progress in the next several 
years as was Jerry's medical knowledge itself.

    Back in Indiana, Mike Darwin and Steve Bridge wrote "Suspended 
Animation -- No Apologies," for the March/April 1978 issue of LONG LIFE 
MAGAZINE.  While I did a lot of rewriting on the piece, it is clear to me 
that the style and the ideas in this are primarily those of Mike.  The 
purpose of the article was to point out that people who were rejecting 
cryonics because they expected life extension drugs to come along soon had 
a weak case.  It reads amazingly well even today and its basic facts and 
conclusions are as relevant as they were 14 years ago.

    As I wrote in the last installment, by September we had moved IABS, 
Mike, Allen Lopp, and Joe Allen into our house/lab at 2901 N. Pennsylvania 
in Indianapolis and were preparing to announce our presence to the world.  
Mike really wanted to push us in the direction of being able to do 
suspensions as soon as possible;  but he was surrounded with mostly non-
technical, though willing, people.  He needed a training project.  
Coincidentally, a fourth resident of the IABS house was in need of 
cryogenic rescue.

    Mike's closest companion for much of his life had been a gentle, 
intelligent mixed-breed dog named Mitzi.  Mitzi was very old, with 
cardiovascular disease and cancer, and it was obvious she wouldn't live 
too many more months.  Mike was determined, as he told us several times, 
that if HE were revived in the future, he would certainly want his dog 
there, too -- preferably with enhanced intelligence so Mike could talk to 
her.  As her condition rapidly deteriorated during the fall, Mike pushed 
hard to find equipment to do the necessary anesthesia, surgery, perfusion 
and cool-down.  Finally, Mike determined that Sunday, November 5 was the 
day that we could get the most team members together.  We needed more 
training but it was apparent we were running out of time.

    In Fullerton that same weekend, Jerry Leaf was conducting another 
suspension of a BACS patient (generally referred to as the "K.V.M. 
Suspension").  The woman had died of a coronary occlusion on her front 
porch and had not been found for several hours (in near freezing 
temperatures).   In later reports on the suspension, Jerry placed 
particular emphasis on the need for an automatic monitor system for 
patients who might be in danger from sudden cardiac arrest.  (As reported 
by Mike Darwin in the August, 1992 issue of CRYONICS Magazine, this 
problem still has not been solved.)

    In Indiana we had one major advantage:  our patient was not human.  
One of the biggest problems for cryonics has always been that we cannot 
schedule suspensions.  Even where a patient is clearly terminal with only 
days or hours before cardiac arrest, we cannot do anything to hasten that 
person's entrance into cryonic suspension without being charged with 
homicide.  Mike's dog Mitzi was certainly in a condition where most pet 
owners would have had her "put to sleep."  We would, indeed, "put her to 
sleep" with anesthesia;  but our intention was to drop her temperature 
until her heart stopped and then proceed down to liquid nitrogen 
temperature (-320 degrees F or -196 C).

    My job was to help Joe Allen mix up the perfusate (the mixture which 
would replace the blood in Mitzi's blood vessels) and then to be a 
surgical assistant (i.e., do whatever Mike told me to do).  After the 
surgery, it would be my job to stay awake all night and monitor the 
temperature descent.  Judson Horning and Joe Allen had some experience 
with laboratory procedure, so they would be the main surgical assistants.  
Allen Lopp was the respiration monitor;  Anna Schoppenhorst monitored 
physiological signs such as temperature and heart rate;  Greg Noe' was the 
pump monitor; Randy Porter was photographer and helped with animal 
preparation;  Carolyn Doyle assisted with laboratory preparation and 
perfusate preparation;  and Ella Vinci provided food for us all.

    Now let me set the scene.  We are NOT talking about a gleaming medical 
laboratory with high-tech equipment, and physicians and experienced lab 
assistants.  This historical experiment was going to take place between 
the institutional-yellow walls in the KITCHEN of a two-story, red brick 
home in Indianapolis.  The equipment consisted of government and hospital 
surplus items at about the level of a M.A.S.H. unit.  The people were a 
collection of high school and college students, a computer programmer, a 
water pollution tester, and a librarian.  In other words, the usual 
collection that passed for a cryonics suspension team in those days (and 
to a lesser extent, today).

    But we also had Mike Darwin.  While the rest of us at that time were 
INTERESTED in cryonics, Mike already had established cryonics as the main 
focus of his life.  He was determined that this bunch of amateurs was 
going to do the best possible job to protect this helpless patient.  And 
this was to be the first steps of training for research and human 
suspensions in the future.

    As we began anesthetizing Mitzi, I felt a moment of paralysis come 
over me, as if I was watching from a distance.  I lost focus and could 
only feel the surrealness of the experience.  As I had specific duties to 
perform again, that sensation went away and I concentrated on the task at 
hand.  I've had that feeling many times in cryonics, and I have heard 
other people describe it as well.  Similar experiences have also been 
described to me by EMT's who were on the scenes of automobile wrecks or 
disasters.  I wouldn't be surprised to hear that soldiers in combat share 
it as well.

    I think this feeling is a combination of two things:  first is the 
mind being overwhelmed by too much sensory input, when the observer 
doesn't have enough experience to quickly filter out the unnecessary 
information.  Second is the incongruity between how the person thought 
their life would proceed and the situation that they now find themselves 
in.  In cryonics we must frequently wrench our minds away from the 
attitudes toward life and death that we learned as children.  That wrench 
occurs most often for me when I am involved in a suspension.  I would be 
curious to hear what feelings other people have during suspensions.

    For the most part, the operation went smoothly.  Mitzi was perfused 
with 10 liters of 7% glycerol and 30 liters of 20% glycerol.  There was no 
warm ischemic time (no time that blood flow and oxygenation were stopped 
at high temperatures).  Everyone did their assigned job and each of us 
learned just what it would take to prepare ourselves for a human 
suspension.  Mike did yell at us a few times, but it was obvious to me 
that most of his frustration was aimed at himself and his own lack of 
experience.  Besides, this wasn't just throw-away research.  This was his 

    I think Mike's work on this operation will be rewarded, if cryonics 
works for any of us.  It is ironic that, because of the laws which require 
us to wait for cardiac arrest to suspend humans, this dog probably got 
better treatment than all but a handful of the human patients now in 
liquid nitrogen.

    Because of storage considerations and other practical reasons, Mitzi 
was to be stored head-only.  We wrapped her head in several layers of 
cloth and placed it in a bath of acetone.  As I sat up by myself 
overnight, adding chunks of dry ice to the bath to smoothly lower the 
temperature, I realized that cryonics would require a lot more effort than 
I had understood previously.  And a lot more knowledge.  We needed to 
recruit some more members if we were going to freeze PEOPLE in 

[To Be Continued.]

                                   *  *  *

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