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Date: 09 Feb 90 23:55:06 EST
From: Steve Bridge <>
To: KEVIN <>
Subject: Cryonics intro revised
Message-Id: <"900210045506 72320.1642 EHI75-2"@CompuServe.COM>

This is a slightly revised version of that intro [msg #145], after comparing 
with some ideas from Mike Darwin and Hugh Hixon.   The changes are  mostly 
fairly minor word changes (for the better, I think), and a price change on 
"Signing Up Made Simple" from $12.00 down to $10.00.    Still,  for  those 
people  looking  for accuracy,  this is the better version to use  in  the 
future.  I don't plan to make any more changes for quite a while, so it is 
now the "Official" Alcor version.  Pass it on to the Network or to the New 
York  bunch  as you see fit.   (Sorry I didn't make these  changes  before 
sending it the first time.)


     CRYONIC SUSPENSION is an experimental procedure whereby  patients who 
can  no longer be kept alive with today's medical abilities are  preserved 
at low temperatures for treatment in the future.   Although this procedure 
is  not  yet  reversible,  it is based on  the  expectation  that  medical 
technology  of the future will be able to cure today's  diseases,  reverse 
the  effects  of  aging,  and repair any additional injury caused  by  the 
freezing   process.   That  superior  technology  could  then  resuscitate 
suspended  patients  to enjoy health and youth  indefinitely.   The  field 
which  deals with this procedure is called CRYONICS.  (This should not  be 
confused  with "cryogenics," which is the branch of engineering  which  is 
concerned with the production and study of low temperatures.)

     Cryonics  is  not  a  cult or a religion of  any  kind.   The  people 
involved in cryonics hold widely varying views on religion,  politics, and 
social issues.  Their occupations include scientists, physicians, computer 
programmers,  business  owners,  teachers,  librarians,  and  secretaries.  
However,  they  all agree that being alive is a wonderful thing  and  that 
this technology may help them stay that way.  

     Cryonics  might better be seen as an experimental medical technology.  
This  label may seem strange at first,  since many people have gotten  the 
mistaken  impression that cryonics patients are dead.   Cryonics is not  a 
new  way  of  storing  dead bodies.   It is a new  way  of  saving  lives.  
Cryonicists  refer to these frozen people as PATIENTS,  because we  firmly 
believe that they are, in a very real sense, still alive.

     People  really  are being frozen;  it is no longer  science  fiction. 
Approximately  50  persons  have  been  frozen  since  the  first  cryonic 
suspension  in 1967.   About 300 other people have made the financial  and 
legal  arrangements to be suspended in case they should become  terminally 
ill  or injured.   However,  any stories you may read about frozen  people 
being  revived  are definitely science fiction.   No human has  ever  been 
thawed out and revived (with the exception of human embryos),  and it will 
be  a  long  time before this happens.  Medical  technology  has  not  yet 
advanced  to  the point where cryonic suspension  is  reversible;  today's 
deadly  illnesses  and  injuries are not yet curable;  and even  if  these 
things had been accomplished,  there is no point in reviving anyone  until 
the  aging process is fully under control.   No one wants to be reawakened 
as an aged, infirm person.

     Cryonics is not yet accepted as a legitimate life-saving procedure by 
today's medical authorities.   With our current technology we cannot prove 
that a frozen human can be repaired and revived (although a great deal  of 
research   suggests   that   this  will  be  possible  in   the   future).  
Unfortunately,  this situation creates numerous medical,  legal,  and even 
political difficulties.   For instance,  if a patient were to be suspended 
while  he  was  legally alive,  someone might claim  that  the  suspension 
process  itself  had  killed  the patient,  creating  the  possibility  of 
criminal or civil charges against the suspension team.  Therefore, current 
cryonics  practice is to suspend dying patients as soon as possible  after 
cardiac arrest (stopping of the heart) and declaration of "legal death."  

     This  course  of action can be seen as reasonable once  one  realizes 
that  "legal  death" is not the same as "biological death."   A  physician 
declares  legal death when a patient's condition cannot be  repaired  with 
current  medical  knowledge  and  techniques.   However,  the  process  of 
deterioration which we call "dying" is not a sudden happening.  It is much 
more like slipping into an ever deepening coma.   Even several hours after 
declaration  of death,  most of the cells in the body (including those  in 
the brain) are still individually alive and capable of resuming function.  

     As late as the 1940's,  people who stopped breathing because of heart 
attacks  or  drowning were routinely declared dead.   Today  thousands  of 
people  have survived heart attacks and other conditions which would  have 
been  fatal  40  years  ago.   Children  have survived  over  an  hour  of 
"drowning"  in cold water.  Were those heart attack and  drowning  victims 
really dead forty years ago,  but nature has changed the rules today?   Of 
course not; those people were still alive-- doctors just did not know what 
to do about it.   In the same way, most people who are declared dead TODAY 
would be called "alive" by  doctors of the future.  With that  observation 
in mind,  we think these patients should be considered potentially "alive" 
NOW, and we should do something to KEEP them that way.

     Even within the next 10-15 years,  you are likely to be amazed by the 
amount of progress in recovering patients from strokes, heart attacks, and 
lack of blood circulation to the brain.  Ultimately, it should be possible 
to  recover  patients  as  long as basic brain  structure  remains  intact 
(several hours past the point at which today's doctors give up).   In  the 
next  century,  the medical knowledge of the 1990's will seem as primitive 
as  the  medical  understandings  of one hundred years  ago  seem  to  us.  
Cryonic  suspension  itself will cure nothing,  but it buys time  for  the 
patient,  keeping  his  body virtually unchanged until a future  when  his 
suspended  state may be considered only an extremely deep coma.   Even now 
there is solid evidence that  cooling the  human body  to liquid  nitrogen  
temperature  (-320  degrees  F),  with  the use of  techniques  to  reduce 
freezing   injury,   can  preserve  the  fine  structure  of   the   brain 

     There  is  no guarantee that cryonic suspension will ever  allow  for 
future  revival.  We  do not know enough to state with absolute  certainty 
that  this  procedure is workable.   However,  the case for  the  possible 
future revival of suspended patients grows stronger all of the time.   One 
recent  argument  in  favor  of future repair  and  revival  of  suspended 
patients was provided by K.  Eric Drexler in his fascinating book, ENGINES 
OF CREATION (Doubleday,  1986).   This book details the beginnings of  the 
new  field  of  "nanotechnology" (also  called  "molecular  engineering").  
Nanotechnology is the next step smaller than micro-technology, and it will 
create  industries which will operate by working with atoms and  molecules 
one  at a time.   Among other astounding developments,  this will lead  to 
computers and cell repair machines one thousand times smaller than a human 
cell. Such devices could repair any disease or injury (including that from 
freezing) by working directly on the cells themselves.

     It  must  be pointed out that cryonicists are not  people  with  some 
fixation  on  cold temperatures.   None of us want to be frozen.   We  are 
simply people who like being alive, and who want to see the future and all 
of  its wonders.   For us,  cryonics provides a safety net,  a  last-ditch 
attempt at life-saving which may give us the chance to see that future.

     Our  cryonics  organization,  the  Alcor  Life  Extension  Foundation 
("Alcor"), is a California not-for-profit corporation, registered with the 
Internal  Revenue Service as a tax-exempt scientific  organization.  Alcor 
has a fully equipped and operational research laboratory,  operating room, 
and patient storage facility in Riverside,  California.   Alcor was formed 
as  a mutual aid society,  where the members are committed to helping each 
other.   All Alcor board members, officials, and suspension team personnel 
are  required to be full suspension members.   We do not want a  situation 
which could pit "Alcor" against "the members."  Alcor IS its members.  All 
decisions on the safety of the patients and stability of the  organization 
are  made  with  the  knowledge  that they will  affect  everyone  in  the 

     If  you would like further information,  you may order the  following 
publications (among others) from Alcor:

ALCOR:  THRESHOLD  TO TOMORROW (introductory booklet)  FREE for 1st  copy.
Extra copies $5.00 each.

THE SCIENTIFIC BASIS OF CRYONICS (selected reprints) $10.00.

SIGNING   UP  MADE  SIMPLE  (How  to  provide  the  legal  and   financial 
arrangements  for  cryonic  suspension,  with  filled-out  sample  forms.)   

Subscription  to  CRYONICS  magazine  at  $25.00  per  year  (12  issues).
Fascinating articles and discussion on the current state of cryonics, plus 
science updates.

     Please send a check or money order; no cash, please.  Phone toll-free 
to  use  Visa  or  MasterCard.   Make all checks  payable  to  Alcor  Life 
Extension Foundation and mail to:

                     Alcor Life Extension Foundation
                          12327 Doherty Street, 
                       Riverside, California 92503 
                         Telephone 800-367-2228.

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