X-Message-Number: 19193
Date: Sun, 2 Jun 2002 20:36:26 EDT
Subject: shoulda woulda coulda

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A brief response, after a couple of people asked for details about our latest 

First and foremost, in my estimation, on balance, it is probably a mistake to 
publish details about individual suspensions. The potential upside vs. the 
potential downside is not impressive and very possibly negative, and we can't 
waste our time or efforts.

After all, we already know the risks and the ways to reduce them. True, if 
members read about bad cases they may be motivated to review their own 
arrangements and try to improve them. On the other hand, if potential members 
read about a substantial number of unfortunate cases, there is a very good 
chance they will be discouraged from doing anything--we know this because we 
know of such people, and also because our numbers are so small overall.

As far as reporting details of procedure goes, one can cite possible 
positives and negatives. On the positive side, if we were to publish a lot of 
techno-medical-sounding jargon, that might encourage a few potential members 
to think we are hot stuff, but we are not in the business of selling hype. On 
the negative side, it will inevitably motivate a lot of kibitzers to flood us 
with questions and suggestions, what we shoulda woulda coulda oughta mighta 
done, wasting our time intolerably--this has happened repeatedly and must be 

Our policy is to publish on our web site, and in The Immortalist, any and all 
information that we believe is useful and appropriate. Beyond that--at least 
while I have something to say about it, which will not be for much longer--we 
should draw the line. We can get all the input and feedback we need from our 
own people and others with whom we are in contact by choice. Anyone who wants 
special information or special attention should earn it.

Specifically, on the matter of post mortem delay, how can it possibly help to 
know which patients or families were on the ball and which were not, or which 
had luck and which did not? What counts is the actual potential risk and ways 
to avoid or minimize it, which everybody knows and which we do our best to 
convey to our members. If the next ten patients all die alone and are not 
found  for a week, how will it help members or potential members to know 

In the case of our last patient, our third Australian, as it happens he was 
packed in ice at the hospital within a half hour of death, and cooled down in 
dry ice after washout and perfusion at a local mortuary that we had 
previously supplied. 

In general, whether abroad or in the U.S., the most nearly ideal practical 
arrangement usually is to have the patient die at home under hospice care, 
with trained people standing by with their supplies and equipment. The next 
best thing is to have a local mortician, trained and equipped, ready to go to 
the hospital promptly when called, or to stand by at the hospital if that is 

Incidentally, it is somewhat interesting that death-bed sign-ups do not 
necessarily  result in worse suspensions. If the problem of executing a 
contract and making payment quickly enough can be handled--and sometimes it 
can--then the other hazards may actually be reduced, since everyone is aware 
of the emergency and no one is taken by surprise. 

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society


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