Can We Beat Death Now by Cryonics?
For the first time ever a human body has been cryogenically frozen in China.
The cryogenically frozen woman, Zhan Wenlian, died from lung cancer aged 49. After her death, her husband, Gui Junmin, “volunteered” her for the cryogenic procedure. Wenlian had previously expressed a desire to donate her body to science to “give back to society.”
The grieving husband said he was interested in the idea as “life preservation project.” To complete the procedure Wenlian’s body is inserted face down into 2000 liters of liquid nitrogen at -196oC. Her body will be kept at the Yinfeng Biological Group in Jinan. The procedure was completed with assistance from the American non-profit organization the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. The 55 hour procedure reportedly cost about Rs. 1.9 crore.
What is Cryonics?
Cryonics is a technique intended to hopefully save lives and greatly extend lifespan. It involves cooling legally-dead people to liquid nitrogen temperature where physical decay essentially stops, in the hope that future scientific procedures will someday revive them and restore them to youth and good health. A person held in such a state is said to be a “cryopreserved patient”, because we do not regard the cryopreserved person as being inevitably “dead”.
Procedure adopted to perform Cryonics
Source: The Sun
- Firstly immediately after death a team stabilises circulation with a heart-lung resuscitator and keep brain supplied with blood and oxygen.
- Body is packed in ice for transit and injected with a blood thinning drug.
- At the cryonics plant, water is removed from the body and replaced with human antifreeze.
- Body is put on the bed of dry ice until it cools to -130 o C
- Body is held in tank of liquid nitrogen at -196 o C. The body is stored upside down to protect the head in event of a leak.
Can Cryonics be performed on living people?
Legally,not yet. We hope that one day it will be, under carefully controlled conditions, for terminally ill patients.
But this is not critical to the premise of cryonics. At legal death, most of a person’s tissues are still alive. Thousands of people have been revived after they have stopped breathing or their hearts have stopped.
Legal death is the point at which – under the current state of medical science – the doctor gives up. But just as many people living today have been revived after what would have been considered irreversible death even 50 years ago, the doctors of the future will not give up so quickly. Cryonics attempts to transport our patients – preserved at or near the instant of legal death – to those doctors for treatment.
Will a cryogenically-frozen corpse ever come back to life?
Nature has shown us that it is possible to cryopreserve animals like reptiles, amphibians, worms and insects. Nematode worms trained to recognize certain smells retain this memory after being frozen. The wood frog (Rana sylvatica) freezes into a block of ice during winter and hops around the following spring. However, in human tissue each freeze-thaw process causes significant damage. Understanding and minimizing this damage is one of the aims of cryobiology. At the cellular level, these damages are still poorly understood, but can be controlled. Each innovation in the field relies on two aspects: improving preservation during freezing and advancing recovery after thawing. The repair capabilities of molecular biology and nanotechnology increasingly point to a future technology that can repair damage due to aging, disease and cryonic suspension. Current progress in stem cell tissue regeneration, 3D biological printers and other advanced technologies convinces many experts that we might be able to revive people in a healthy and youthful state when these technologies mature.
Can you expect success?
No one can guarantee success, because no one can guarantee the future. No one can predict scientific progress with certainty. We believe that a very strong case can be made for the probable success of cryonics. But that doesn’t mean that social disruptions aren’t possible. Nuclear war, economic collapse, political strife and terrorism, are all possible, and they could end the lives of cryopreserved patients just as easily as they can end the lives of any of us.