X-Message-Number: 2422
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 93 02:34:14 CDT
From:  (Will Dye)
Subject: CRYONICS:  Follow-up on friend with cancer

(Follow-up on friend with terminal cancer.)  

     I posted a message a while back concerning a friend of mine
(my brother-in-law) who was diagnosed with inoperable cancer.  I
want to again thank Ralph Merkle, Thomas Donaldson, Keith Henson,
Richard Schroeppel, and others who generously took the time to
offer their advice.  Your kindness is deeply appreciated.  

     I recently had the chance to talk with my friend about
various alternate treatments, cryonics among them.  He decided
against it.  He isn't afraid of dying, he just wants to see his
daughters (ages 5, 3, and 1) grow up.  Cryonics doesn't offer
that.  He desperately wants a cure, but he would rather spend his
money on other alternate treatments, and reserve the remainder of
his estate for his family.  I'm putting some other matters on
hold while I help him research alternate protocols.  

     For me, this experience has been both painful and thought-
provoking (it's curious how the two are so often related).  After
a long period of skepticism, I've become convinced that molecular
nanotechnology will work.  I remain skeptical of cryonics, but I
simply haven't had the time to give the subject proper scrutiny;
so I must admit that my misgivings are a natural reaction to an
unusual new theory, not a supported conviction that cryonics
won't work.  I promised Ralph Merkle that I would carefully read
& comment on his paper "The Technical Feasibility of Cryonics"
when things settle down.  I look forward to it.  

     Despite my reservations, I am convinced that cryonics should
at least be regarded as an option rather than as suicide, since
it is a clear _attempt_ to preserve life.  I support anti-suicide
laws in principle, but it is ironic that the laws passed to
promote the value of life now impede those who are desperately
trying to preserve it.  Surely we must be more careful and
flexible in our legislation.  

     Perhaps this idea of "attempt" can be a key to new ideas in
legislation.  I've often thought that if I were comatose and not
responding to standard treatment (which mostly consists of "wait
and see"), it would be my wish that doctors try something,
_anything_, to try to revive me.  I'd rather die on the operating
table, fighting like crazy for my life.  At least the doctors
would learn something from the experiment.  While this approach
certainly has problems, it avoids the key problem of terminating
patients, since a clear attempt is being made to improve their
lives.  We aren't "giving up" anymore.

     In other words, it is improper to terminate the continuation
of a life simply because someone thinks the life doesn't have
sufficient quality; but it is acceptable, under controlled
circumstances, to _risk_ the continuation of a life in order to
improve its quality.  In this model, if an operation is an honest
attempt to improve and preserve life, then the burden of proof is
on those who say the risk of death is in fact certain death.  
Since we don't know if cryonics will or will not work, then it 
would be allowed (with some controls), even if the patient 
wasn't yet in the state of legal death.

     Similarly, the medical tradition just doesn't seem to
understand that when the standard treatment has almost no chance
of working, it's OK to try something unusual.  Feh!  I'm
digressing again.  I need to shut up and get back to work.  Much
to do.  I've spent too long on this already, but I hope you've
found it interesting.

     As for my friend, I'm glad that he was given the option. 
Unless solid scientific evidence is produced that cryonics will
not work, I hope that your field will emerge from its lunatic-
fringe status, so that others may be given the same option.  

     Thanks again,

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