X-Message-Number: 124
From: Kevin Q. Brown
Subject: Death Takes A Holiday 
Date: 2 Aug 1989

One of the greatest risks for a cryonicist is the possibility of not getting
cryonically suspended quickly after clinical death (lack of respiration and
heart beat).  Even people located near their cryonics facility who are
suffering from a terminal illness may have their wishes thwarted by local
hospital administrators or government officials.  People visiting or living in
another state or (worse) another country face even greater logistic and legal
challenges to ensure a prompt suspension, should it be needed.
The Aug. 1989 issue of International Living had an article of interest to
cryonicists visiting or living outside the United States.  It was, of course,
not written with cryonicists in mind, but the delays and red tape described
below do give a cryonicist food for thought.
                                       - Kevin Q. Brown
                                       ...att!ho5cad!kqb   <-- new email
                                         <--  address

Death takes a holiday
by Carol and Dan Thalimer
International Living, Aug. 1989
(824 E. Baltimore St., Baltimore, MD 21202 (301) 234-0515)

If you are planning to live or travel abroad, decide in advance what you want
done if you or a family member dies outside the United States.  Have a will
drawn up and make custody plans for your children.  Decide what you want done
with your body.  Do you want it buried locally, cremated, donated to science,
or shipped home?  Put your wishes in writing, leave a copy of the document with
a family member at home, and carry another copy with you.  Make no plans that
are time-critical, bacause you can't know how long all the formalities and red
tape will take.  Assume that it will be at least 10 days before the body is
shipped home.
Local laws and customs must be considered when you make your plans.  (The U.S.
consulate is a good place to ask about these considerations.)  Few countries
require that a body be embalmed.  Many religions and some countries require
that a body be interred within 24 hours of death.  Most Moslems believe that
after a person dies, his body has no significance.  The custom is to bury it
before nightfall.
There are only a few places in Saudia Arabia where a body can be embalmed.
However, U.S. law requires that a body be embalmed before it can be returned
to the United States.  Returning a body from Saudi Arabia to the United States
is an exercise in logistics and diplomacy.

Some cases in point

Pat Reiley is the director of human resources for Lumus Crest, a U.S.
engineering firm employing Americans in Persian Gulf countries.  During his
tenure, Reiley has been responsible for returning several bodies to the United
In one case, an American was killed in an automobile accident.  The body was
taken to a local morgue for examination, and a death certificate was issued by
the Saudi government.  Reiley, acting as representative for the family, had a
certified translation made of the certificate for the U.S. authorities.  He
arranged for the body to be embalmed, got an official U.S. death certificate

from the consulate, and contacted the airline to make arrangements for shipment.
Reiley and an embassy official witnessed the body being placed in a steel
casket, which was then welded shut.  The U.S. Embassy issued a certificate
stating that the body alone was sealed in the coffin, and a customs clearance
was obtained.  The airline made cargo space available on a commercial flight.
Reiley and a family member took the same flight to the United States to ensure
that the coffin was transferred at each stop.
Upon arrival in the United States, the sealed coffin was cleared through
customs and then released to the mortuary for services and burial.  The seal on
the coffin could not be broken.
Returning a body to the United States can be costly.  Shipment of a coffin as
freight can cost $4,000 or more.  And you must add the cost of an airline
ticket for the person accompanying the body.
In another case handled by Reiley, the family of the deceased wanted the
remains cremated in England and the ashes returned to the United States.  As in
Saudi Arabia, the body was taken to a local morgue, and a death certificate was
issued.  However, the British do not require that a body be embalmed.  Neither
is it required that an embassy official be present when the coffin is sealed.
After the body was cremated, the ashes were sealed in an urn, which was shipped
to the United States.  No one was required to accompany the ashes.
In a third case, the individual died as a result of a fall from a second-story
window.  Local authorities would not release the body until the cause of death
was established.  Because there was the possibility of foul play, the
investigation took almost a month.
In each of these cases, the company employing the deceased helped with the
arrangements.  However, if you are not working for a U.S. company overseas but
are traveling on your own, the responsibility falls on you.  In this case,
contact the Center for Emergency Services at the local U.S. consulate for help.

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