X-Message-Number: 5984
From:  (Brian Wowk)
Newsgroups: uk.legal,sci.cryonics,sci.life-extension
Subject: Re: Virtue of suffering
Date: 10 Mar 96 07:08:50 GMT
Message-ID: <>
References: <> <>

In <> John Sharman <> 

>>         I assure you that is the case in cryonics as well.  We try
>> hard to capture people's interest and inspire them, and use language
>> that is non-threatening.

>I cannot imagine that anyone would object to an imaginative use of
>language with a view to ameliorating the suffering of the bereaved. What
>worries me is the vulnerability of these people. If you are in truth as
>ethical as you appear to be trying to be, then do you not think that you
>must avoid even the risk of arousing false hope?

	You speak as though we actively market cryonics to the dying,
or families of those who are already dead.  We do not.  As I've tried
to explain in another post, I *hate* freezing people with current technology
(because it's so bad) and try to avoid it like the plague.  Instead
we prefer to interest young people in cryonics; people who are fascinated
by the idea and who can help build the technology into a quality part of
medicine in the 21st century.  If any of us need freezing in the meantime,
then we'll freeze with the best technology we have available.  But that's not
the same as actively pursuing and wanting to freeze people today.          

>> In fact,
>> I have personal knowledge of two cases (unrelated to cryonics) in which
>> CONSCIOUS people were pronounced legally dead.

>Are you saying that a medic was a lawyer, or that the lawyer was the

	The women were conscious because blood was kept flowing by
manual CPR.  But their hearts could not be restarted.  Faced with
the decision of maintaining these patients by remaining crouched
over them and pushing on their chest 90 times a minute for the
rest of their lives, or giving up, the physicians decided to declare them
dead and stop CPR.  (In one, case CPR was continued long enough for
a priest to be summoned, converse with the patient, and perform
last rights.)  This kind of thing happens surprisingly often
in medicine. 

>>         In most jurisdictions, there are three different criteria used
>> to pronounce legal death that apply in three very different situations.
>> Scenario 1)     Patient is certified terminal.  A "do not resuscitate"
>>                 order is placed on the patient's chart.  Legal death
>>                 is declared the moment heart beat and breathing stop.

>The judge is right there by the bedside?

	On this side of the Atlantic, a physician has the authority
to pronounce a patient legally dead on the basis of cardiac arrest
and hand them off to a mortician (or cryonics team) in essentially real
time.  (Been there, done that.)  I find it hard to believe things are that
different over there.  If my heart stops in a U.K. hospital, will I really
be left in bed all weekend until the paperwork is filed with a judge
on Monday?
>> Scenario 2)     Lengthy attempt at cardiac resuscitation fails.  The
>>                 patient is declared legally dead because the heart
>>                 cannot be restarted.  (This was the scenario in which
>>                 the conscious people I mentioned earlier were declared dead,
>>                 and CPR stopped.)

>Ditto. What you are talking about is the issue of death certificates
>which are not necessarily conclusive for legal purposes.

	What I am talking about is the legal hand off of custody
of a body from a physician to a mortician (or cryonics team).  Exactly
when do families get custody of their loved ones' remains in U.K.

>> Fortunately for cryonicists, most people (slightly more than 50%) die
>> according to scenario (1).  No special exceptions, or "bending the law"
>> is required for a cryonics patient to get good care if they die according
>> to scenario one.  Scenario (1) legal death means NOTHING biologically.
>> The heart stops?  Big deal.  Blood flow and oxygenation can be restored
>> artificially within one minute, causing no harm to the brain at all.
>> Anesthesia is routinely used and required for scenario (1) cryonics 
>> patients.

>It seems to me that you are inevitably in a Catch 22 situation. You
>depend upon a concept of reversible death to justify your activities. If
>then, as a part of the preparation for freezing, you resuscitate a dead
>person, he is or may be then alive once more; if you subsequently kill
>him, you risk indictment.

	Medicine declares biologically alive people "dead" all
the time, and throws them away, thereby guaranteeing biological death.
(Declaring "death" and stopping CPR on a conscious person is a classic
example that I have already given.)  90% percent of death declarations
in hospitals today are de-facto euthanasia, as they involve patients
who could be resuscitated but aren't because it would only prolong
their suffering.  As long as proper anesthesia is used, why should
anyone care if cryonics patients are resuscitated and then frozen?
In the conventional view, the whole process is but a minor variant
of the euthanasia theme that is decreed as appropriate when hospitals 
delare "death."  Right?

  	Consider two patients.  Both are declared "dead."  One
is resuscitated under anesthesia and frozen, the other not.  Both
patients remain unconscious.  Both patients end up biologically dead
(in the conventional view).  Both patients were decreed and destined
to end up that way the moment the hospital decided to discontinue
care by calling them dead.  Seems to me it would take one
vindictive bastard of a judge to somehow rule that in this scenario 
cryonicists euthanize patients but hospitals don't.  The one instance
in which this question has come before a judge, the judge saw it
exactly the same way I do here.   

>> That's not to say that our patients are in good shape.  They are in
>> TERRIBLE shape.  But then again, so are many of the comatose patients on
>> Scenario (3) life support that medicine calls legally living today.
>> All we ask is that laws regarding life and death in medicine be applied

>> fairly and equally to all people, including us, which currently they are not.

>And it is your right to demand that the law gives you that. But you must
>respect the duty of the law to protect the legitimate interests of
>others. Are you seeking the legalisation of assisted suicide? At least
>one jurisdiction already has it. Not the UK as yet. It might, I think,
>solve at least some of your problems.

	As a political libertarian, I have strong personal feelings
about the issue of assisted suicide.  However I cannot express them
in any official capacity as I'm obviously in a conflict-of-interest
(or at least easily perceived to be).
 Brian Wowk          CryoCare Foundation               1-800-TOP-CARE
 President           Your Gateway to the Future        

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