X-Message-Number: 25933
From: "Brian Wowk" <>
Subject: Living Wills and Advance Directives
Date: Wed, 30 Mar 2005 10:22:15 -0800

    James Clement recently posted a sample living will basically saying that 
life support is not be terminated under any circumstances.  For a 
cryonicist, this is a potentially fatal mistake.  Here is a note on this 
subject from Cryonics, May, 1982:

May, 1982


Some cryonicists have brought to my attention the fact that others might
not understand how it can be that prolonged placement on a respirator can
destroy the brain, especially in view of the fact that our bracelets
specifically ask for us to be placed upon a respirator.

The subject is complex;  however to summarize it briefly, if we are placed
on a respirator in a hospital situation, rather than as part of cryonic
suspension, our body temperature will be maintained at the normal human
body temperature of 37 degrees C.  If it happens that circulation to our
brain is not reestablished, this will mean that our brain cells would
remain deprived of oxygen and nutrients for a long time while at a high
temperature.  This will cause all of the deteriorations we recognize as
happening with ischemia, made worse by the high temperatures.  After a
period of abou t 24 hours with this treatment, very little cell structure
remains in the brain.  Neurologists attending patients on a respirator
recognize this condition and give it the name "respirator brain."

    One cryonicist I know has an Advance Medical Directive with the 
following language:

"I specifically desire that my life not be artificially prolonged nor my
physiological functions maintained by use of a respirator in the event of
severe brain injury or damage from any cause, including by not limited to:
stroke, aneurysm, trauma, poisoning, or cardiac arrest. I stipulate that
'severe injury' constitutes any condition in which flow to the brain is
irreversibly compromised or in which electrical activity is absent (where
there are no overlying reversible reasons for absence of electrical
activity, such as the presence of barbiturates or hypothermia). If a sever
injury of this nature has occurred and current medical techniques cannot
reverse it, I instruct that I immediately be disconnected from life support
equipment, that I be declared legally dead as soon as possible, and that my
remains be promptly transferred to ALCOR Life Extension Foundation. To this
end I authorize any and all tests required to establish continued cerebral
viability, blood flow, and/or electrical activity as may be required in the
judgement of my health care agent on advice from my physicians."

Bottom line:  The distinction needs to be made that you want life support
to get you to Alcor as long as such life support would not result in
deterioration of your brain, but that you would want life support removed
immediately if it would result in deterioration of your brain.

     I *strongly* recommend that all cryonicists read the article by David 
Brandt-Erichsen the begins on page 26 of the November, 1988, issue of 
Cryonics magazine:


---Brian Wowk 

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