X-Message-Number: 14823
Date: Wed, 01 Nov 2000 19:52:46 -0500
From: david pizer <>
Subject: Opinions in general about cryonics growth

Comments about cryonics problems in general.

Since Ms. Chamberlain has mentioned that Alcor is willing to communicate
directly with Mr. Kirschner if he chooses to re-contact them, (and it seems
that Alcor has been trying to communicate with him all along. before HE
took this to a public forum), and since she has stated that this forum is
not suited for both their best interests, I am no longer going to comment
on this case in particular.  However there were some things brought up in
general that I will share my opinion with.  Keep in mind I DO NOT REPRESENT
ALCOR IN ANY WAY.  Some of my opinions may be in direct contrast with those
of present Alcor management, I just offer them to other cryonicists for
discussion in general and in hopes that these discussions will lead to
better understandings and increase the odds of survival for all of us.

>From: Thomas Donaldson <>
>Subject: re Alcor's foreign membership
>Hi everyone!
>About Kirschner's message:
>Although I am a US citizen (now living overseas) and carry only US
>life insurance, the insurance problem faced by Kirschner should not be
>simply ignored. If Alcor is to grow, it should try to grow internationally,
>and that means it should be willing to accept foreign members.

I disagree with Thomas that Alcor can grow by taking foreign members for
the following reasons:

1.	The cryonics service that Alcor offers is one that they often break-even
on or lose money on when done in the U.S.  Trying to do the same in foreign
countries could be a disaster financially.  

2.	If the type of standby and procedures that Alcor offers were offered by
conventional medical hospitals the cost would probably run over a million
dollars per suspension preparation.  I am guessing and I welcome anyone
that is familar with present medical costs to jump in and correct me on the
cost or the amount of time involved.

I know this sounds like an exageration but if one considers what is
involved then it becomes more clear:

1.	First there might be a standby.  This could be where a team from Alcor
of 2 to 4 people fly almost anywhere in the world with equipment and
supplies.  They are at the patient's bedside for several days in some

2.	Then, sometimes, the patient recovers and lives a few weeks or months
more, so the team goes back home.  Then another frantic call from a
relative that the patient seems like he/she is ready to die again.  The
team is rushed out again.  This may go on several times.

Cryonicists, who are dying, often don't give up easily.  You might ask why
don't they die quickly to make their chances better and easier on the team.
 Some do.  However, some cryoncists just can't quit fighting death even
though delays might make their chances of getting a good suspension worse.
Think about what you are going to do on your deathbed?  Are you going to be
calm and make rational decisions, or is this going to be the most terrible,
frightening experience of your life - waking up each morning knowing that
you only have a few more days to live?

3.	Eventually the patient dies and if he/she was lucky the Alcor team was
at the bedside.  Then there is the washout proceedure that is done in the
field.  That takes several team members several hours.

4.	Then the patient is shipped to Alcor where a team of 5 to 10 people
spend at least a full day doing the actual suspension.

5.	Then there is the cooldown, where a team or 2 or 3 people are involved
in and out for several days.

6.	Then there is the transfer to LN2 that takes several people a few hours.

7.	While all these people are doing the medical stuff, there has been
another team of Alcor people trying to coordinate all this.  People on the
phones getting the fastest airline connections; shipping the equipment,
supplies and getting the body back as fast as possible; coordinating with
hospices or hospital personel, and bureaucrats, and the list goes on and on.  

If doctors and nurses and medical executives were doing all this at present
pay scale plus the mark up a hospital would add plus the cost of medicines
used, and the expected financial return on millions of dollars of special
equipment they would have to use, I would not be surprised to see a bill of
over 1 million dollars, just for the preparation.  These costs do not
include long-term storage costs that start after the perparation is done.

Recently I had a team of doctors do a simple heart angioplasty on me.  A
team of 3 people worked on me for an hour. They stuck a little thing in my
artery in a leg and ran it into my heart and one doctor then pushed the
button on their end of the device a couple times, and then removed it.   I
spent the nite in the hospital and went home the next morning.  My
insurance company and I spent close to $10,000.  (There was no cutting done
in this procedure.  The skill and time spent were a small fraction of what
is involved in a cryonics suspension.)

The cryonics suspension preparation can involve hundreds of hours - maybe
more, lots of very expensive equipment and supplies and someone who can do
the surgery which is similar to open heart surgery, although it is just a
part of the overall suspension.

So now one might ask, "*How* does Alcor keep the prices so low if this is
so?" (The suspension preparation charges are around $35,000, the rest is
storage costs),  and "*Why* does Alcor keep the prices so low?"

I'll give you my opinion on the second question first.  Alcor wants to make
its services available to as many people as possible, they want to keep
cryonics as affordable as possible.  I can tell you that every Alcor
employee and volunteer that I have ever met was caring and concerned for
the members and patients, unsurpassed in any other medical environment that
I have ever seen, (and I have done volunteer work at hospitals).

The answer to the second question:  Alcor staff works for way under market
wages.  Alcor has a lot of volunteers that team in to help.  Alcor has
figured ways to cut costs and Alcor does not make a profit like
conventional medical hospitals try to do.

So for someone to think that Alcor doesn't want to help a prospective
member or patient, after they consider all the sacrifices the Alcor staff
makes, is just foolish.  But the conclusion to this is that since there is
no financial margin, Alcor  must be sure it will get paid when it does a

Now more to Thomas' suggestion that Alcor can grow by increasing foreign
memberships.  I think not.  I think the possible problems with trying to do
good standbys and suspensions in far away places because of distances,
boundry problems and the low rates that Alcor charges - it is not possible.  

Even if a foreign member had millions of dollars to spend for cryonincs,
the fact that Alcor (or any cryonics company in another country or
continent) are so far away and with the problems of trying to predict time
of death and the problems of sudden death, in my opinion, there will
*always* be a much larger element of risk for members in one country that
are depending on a company in another company to get them a fast, good

Besides the reasons of being far away, there are also more complicated laws
when people from one country try to cross international boundries.  There
have been people on the way to doing cryonics in a hurry that were arrested
because they did not have the proper papers.

There will be delays in getting a frozen body in and out of countries.

There are probably many other problems that I am overlooking.

For this reason I think foreign members would do themselves a service to
form their own cryonics companys close to home.  

Let me repeat that.  If you live out of the U.S., or Canada, and you really
want to try to have a good suspension, you probably will do much better to
form a company in your own country.

Further, I think that Alcor will have a hard time, sometimes, doing very
good standbys and suspension in the U.S. if the patient is far from
Scottsdale Arizona just because of the difficult nature of doing them at
all.   That is one reason why I am joining with others to create a cryonics
retirement community in Arizona.  So older people who might be more at risk
of sudden death are at a place that can stablize them until their cryonics
company can get to them.


On another subject; some people have said that a cryonics organization
should keep a membership with a person even when the cryonics company finds
out that the person's insurance may not pay for the suspension; so the
cryonics company would lay out tens of thousands of dollars at time of
preparation and thousand more each year for storage, and not get a cent in

What would those people say the cryonics company should do if a person got
frozen and his/her insurance company did not pay the suspension company:  

1.	Should the cryonics company spend the money take the loss and keep the
patient frozen?  

If this is the cryonics company's policy and they begin to lose tens of
thousands of dollars on each patient and then go out of business, which
leads to all of the patients then getting unfrozen, how have *any* of the
patients benefited?

Please don't think this can't happen.  Read in the back issues of Cryonics
Magazine how one company in Chattsworth California did go out of business
(for unsafe financial policies - specifically for trying to freeze and keep
patients frozen when they did not get paid for various reasons), and about
ALL their patients that got unfrozen and have now rotted away to nothingness.

2.	Or, would you say instead that if a person's insurance does not pay,
then only that person should be unfrozen and disposed of so that the
cryonics company does not continue to lose money each day they keep him/her
in storage with no payment coming in?
How would that help as much as if Alcor requires the person to get
insurance with a company that are sure will pay?

Neither answer is as acceptable to me as a substitute policy for cryonics
companies having sound financial policies that make the member be
responsible for payment in full.  

It is all our responsibility to act fairly to Alcor (or whatever company we
sign on with) and to do all that we can to see that our dues are paid on
time, and that we have insurance that guarantees it will pay, and if we
find out at any time (no matter how much later) that the company we
selected might not pay, then we the members have an obligation to go get
new and proper insurance that will pay.  

David Pizer

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