X-Message-Number: 11695
Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 14:02:31 EDT
Subject: realistic cryonics

Mike Darwin's post to Cryonet today calls for a relatively brief response, 
for the benefit of newcomers and those who may have forgotten some of the 
issues or the need to put them in perspective. I'll omit all side issues of 
personalities and histories, praise or blame, and focus on essentials.

For both individuals and organizations, the question is not which procedure 
will produce the best result under ideal conditions, but how best to minimze 
the cost/benefit ratio under probable conditions, while achieving if possible 
the flexibility and resources to match the procedure to the conditions. 

For emphasis, I mention again the point made by many practicing 
cryobiologists, that different freezing regimens are best suited to different 
tissues, with the implication that "state of the art" freezing would involve 
teams of surgeons applying different protocols to different parts of the 
brain and body. I don't think even Bill Gates has the means to keep such 
teams available for him on short notice, so that a guarantee of "ideal" 
procedures is simply out of the question for the foreseeable future.

Next, look at Darwin's following statement about post mortem normothermic 
ischemic damage:

>We learned early on that any initial recovery was followed by setbacks and
>that the only truly valid model was evaluation of performance at 3 months
>or more _post insult._  
This, in context, shows clearly that Darwin believes cryonics organizations 
should aim to use methods that would (in a healthy animal) allow LONG TERM 
survival of the whole animal, and not just short term apparent recovery of 
the brain, after substantial periods of normothermic ischemia. This 
requirement would mean that we should not rely on future advances for 
ANYTHING--not even the ability to restore to long term health an animal that 
is still alive and functioning but with hidden deficits. 

That in my opinion would represent a gross failure of realism. We cannot 
avoid relying on future advances for some things, e.g. a cure for old age or 
other fatal illness. The degree of reliance we should place on the future for 
repair of other kinds of damage, including post mortem ischemic damage and 
freezing damage, can be debated, as can the odds in each case; but anyone who 
demands perfection or guarantees will simply opt out of cryonics, as Darwin 
apparently has done.

We can also look again the question of relative importance of damage in the 
normothermic, hypothermic, and cryothermic phases of treatment. It seems very 
clear to me that, in almost all cases, the last is by far the most important. 
The first is the least controllable in most cases, and in any event, in most 
cases, the best remedy is prevention, i.e. to cut the normothermic time by 
cooling as quickly as possible. We recall that drowning victims have made 
full recoveries after roughly an hour under fairly cold water.

Now look at this further quotation from Darwin's post:

>My focus was to develop a multi-modal approach to treating ischemic injury
>and above all, to find a way to deliver a diverse array of radical
>scavengers across the blood barrier in a time frame of _seconds_. 

If you are treating a healthy animal in your own lab, with your team poised 
for action, the animal already intubated, you can deliver a drug cocktail in 
seconds after induced onset of ischemia. Doing this for a patient in a 
hospital, or at home, when it will probably take (at best) minutes and not 
seconds just to get pronouncement of legal death, is not realistic.  
Enough. The bottom line is that Cryonics Institute's goal is not only to 
improve the methods used with our minimum funding, and to make available even 
less expensive methods (such as combinations of chemical fixation and 
moderately cold storage) if these prove to give reasonable results, but also 
to make available the most advanced and expensive procedures whenever this 
can be arranged, for those who choose them. 

Finally, the perennial reminder to those who want perfection right now: If 
you hold back, you not only lose whatever chance you might have had in event 
of early death, but you also lose the opportunity to contribute to the growth 
of the organization and the movement, and thus you impair your future chances.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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