X-Message-Number: 12208
Date: Wed, 28 Jul 1999 10:32:20 EDT
Subject: Pizer's humor, relatives' affidavits

Dave Pizer writes that Mike Darwin told him "Your writing stinks, and you 
spell bad." or something like that. 

Not the first time I have disagreed with Mike. Dave's writing may not be 
polished, but it is often original and very amusing, and we have published 
several of his pieces in THE IMMORTALIST. Now I am reminded that we ought to 
put a sample or two on our web site--maybe "The Courage of the Criocs," or 
"Omelet, Prince of Burbank."

Dave also mentions the question of obtaining written consents for 
cryopreservation from relatives. This is a fairly delicate matter. If it can 
be done relatively easily, it can be marginally helpful. However, if there is 
serious opposition on the part of the relative, asking for the consent can be 
counterproductive, since it conveys the false impression that the relative 
has rights in this matter, and therefore might make the relative more likely 
to try to interfere.

As to legal rights of the legally deceased, I believe that in most states the 
main rights explicitly recognized in law are those related to estates, wills, 
and trusts.  

However, there is also the anatomical donation right; and there is the 
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, a statutory form in most states, 
which allows the patient before death to name a health care representative to 
make decisions if the patient is unable to make them, under guidelines 
spelled out by the patient, and including disposal of remains. Just about all 
hospitals have these forms. 

Since medical people are accustomed to dealing with organ donors and with 
Power of Attorney for Health Care, these are valuable documents, tending to 
allow you to do what you want in the context of routine hospital practice. 

We also have suggested wording for wills--drawn orginally by attorneys for 
ACS--with respect to cryopreservation; and designation of person in charge of 

It must also be remembered that legality is one thing and practice another. 
What happens to you may depend not so much on legal rights as on the 
impressions that key people have at a critical juncture. If you are in a 
hospital or mortuary or at the medical examiner's, custom and relatives on 
the spot may be decisive;  nobody is going to  stick out his neck based on 
some long and unfamiliar legal document such as a cryopreservation contract. 
(In three cases we have had pretty good success in dealing with medical 
examiners on an emergency basis; but if some relative had tried to intervene 
in opposition it might have been a different story.)

The best thing by far, if it can be arranged, is to die under hospice care, 
with prearranged cooperation between the cryonics organization, the hospice, 
and the local authorities (police, parameds, and medical examiner). If you 
die in a non-hospice hospital,  be sure to have your donor form and durable 
power of attorney for health care, and to have friendly and competent 
relatives or other representatives, including  cryonics people, on the spot.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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