X-Message-Number: 2642
Date: 12 Mar 94 21:15:45 EST
From: Mike Darwin <>
Subject: CRYONICS Re: Brain Only Suspension

To Will Dye:

There is no problem with freezing your brain as long as you're prepared to
have a mess made of it.  I have removed lots of brains myself and seen a
few good pathologists do it too.  We currently have a brain-only patient
here at BPI.  He is missing part of histemporal lobe, both cortices are
cut in multiple places and the tip of his frontal lobes is dangling by few
blood vessels.  His brain was removed CAREFULLY by a skilled pathologist
who was a friend of his son who is also a skilled surgeon/biologist.  They
tried their best.

Why do I say what I say about "making a mess of  it?"

1) Unless you use specialized equipment chances are the brain will be
removed with a Stryker vibratory saw (used for autopsies, casts, etc.). 
The almost invariable consequence of this is nice deep cuts 2-5 cm long
into the cerebral cortex: usually the frontal or prefrontal and occipital
and temporal lobes get gashed. These are not nice clean cuts; they look
like they were made with a dull butter knife.

2) The dura is often adherent and it is tough rubbery stuff.  The older
you are the more likely you are to have adherent patches of dura. 
Consequently, areas of the cerebral cortex get peeled away with the dura
when it is reflected.

3) It is not uncommon to have serious tearing injury to the cerebellum and
the midbrain: often the midbrain ends up left in the head along with
other pieces.  The whole brain (which is VERY soft, even when chilled, has
to be pulled up with some force to cut the connections under it: the
spinal cord, optic chiasmata, vascular connections at the circle of Willis
and so on.  Keep in mind that an unsupported brain will develop internal
tears if sat upon a table top.  Brains normally float in cerebrospinal

(Delicate things, brains.)

4)  Even people who want to have their brains removed will have to do so
AFTER CPA perfusion (of course they skip cryoprotection altogether as an
alternative).  So-called isolated brain perfusion experiments are usually
done with the brain "on a plate" consisting of the cranial basin and the
tails of the internal carotids and jugulars used for vascular access. 
This is done because prying the brain out of the skull with its vascular
connections (all of which are UNDER it) intact is very difficult and in
practice probably "impossible."

5) Because your brain will have to be perfused "in your head" your head
will have to be perfused too.  People's faces don't look real good after
perfusion with multimolar glycerol solution.  In fact, my bet is that your
family would probably prefer the headless version, perhaps opening the
lower half of the casket instead. (While this no comment on you as I've
never met you, I feel compelled to observe that with some individuals
there is much to recommend this approach to viewing anyway -- often for
widely different reasons in each case).

6) Removing the brain means handling it and that means potentuially
warming it up at points of contact AFTER it has been loaded with
cryoprotectant.  Furthermore, attempting to carefully carry out the
dissection and remove the brain after perfusion will take TIME, lots of
it.  That equals extra injury from CPA toxcicity and delay.  A large area
of the cortical surface will also be exposed to warm air and bright (warm)
lights during the surgergy to extricate it from your head.

No doubt many of the problems above could be solved by someone really
dedicated to doing so and willing to spend the time and money.  Hiring a
good neurosurgeon would be a great place to start -- but good luck there!

I suggest you write Movieland Wax Museum in Buenea Park, CA.  Find out if
they can make a wax head from a deathmask and photos on short notice and
what it would cost.  We could then do a deathmask on your arrival using a
dental casting product I'm familiar with, take a picture, and run it over
to Movieland.  Your family will be happy and you'll be, if you'll forgive
the pun, *heading* towards tomorrow.

Good luck getting sifned up.  Incidentally, it needn't cost that much.  If
you're young I can probably get you signed up wih one of the cryonics
group I contract with for a couple hundred bucks a year initially.

Best Wishes,

Mike Darwin

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