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Storing dead people at -196°C

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  • Concerning cryonics


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  • Introduction to Video Content
  • Cryonics is a controversial practice that involves freezing a person's body after death in the hopes that future science will be able to revive and cure them of whatever caused their death. While this topic raises many ethical questions, this article will focus on the practical and legal aspects of a cryonics facility. The author acknowledges that they are not qualified to discuss the philosophical side of cryonics and instead wants to explore the practicalities of storing deceased individuals in the hopes of future resurrection. It is emphasized that this article is not an advertisement and the author has no editorial control over the content. The author has been invited to visit a cryonics facility where a limited number of deceased individuals are currently stored. The exact number of patients stored is undisclosed for privacy reasons but is mentioned to be very few. It is clarified that legally and medically these bodies are considered corpses, not living individuals. The cryo process can only begin after the person has been legally declared dead, and their assets have been passed on to their descendants. If a cryonics member is close to death, a specialized ambulance is dispatched to minimize the time between cardiac arrest and the initiation of the cooling procedure. It is crucial that the patient has given informed consent prior to their death. The article concludes by mentioning that three procedures start simultaneously once the cooling process begins.
  • Subtitles section
  • I'm not a philosopher, so I'm going to dodge the many complicated ethical questions about cryonics, about freezing someone's body after they die in the hope that future science will not just unfreeze them,
  • But also cure them of whatever ended their life.
  • The philosophical side of this is way outside what I'm qualified to talk about, and honestly, my opinion would not be helpful.
  • I will say that I think death is a bad thing, and that humanity should be trying to defeat it the same way we've defeated smallpox.
  • But that is a controversial opinion.
  • The questions I do have for the folks that run this actual cryonics facility are practical and legal.
  • As ever, this is not an advert.
  • The team here have no editorial control.
  • I just got invited to see a place where the dead are being stored in the hope of resurrection.
  • Currently, there's still very few patients stored here.
  • It's more than zero, but you can count it on a very few hands.
  • The exact number we only release once we have a few more.
  • Do not have any potential privacy problems, but it's very few so far.
  • The company's official website describes the bodies in there as patients, but what's being stored are, legally and medically, corpses, not people.
  • The people have been declared legally dead, and their assets have passed to their descendants.
  • The cryo process cannot start until the person is declared dead, because otherwise it's murder.
  • So if someone who's signed up is close to death, the company will dispatch a very non-standard ambulance.
  • There needs to be the least possible delay between the heart stops and the cool-down procedure being started.
  • And of course, only if the patient has given informed consent before dying.
  • And then we start practically three procedures at the same time.
  • One is we start cooling down as quick as possible.
  • There's a saying in medicine that says, you're only dead if you're warm and dead.
  • The metabolic rate of the cell goes down, and the cell dies slower.
  • We also start very aggressive, what is similar to CPR, chest compressions, giving oxygen and so on, to give some amount of metabolic support.
  • Then before you cross zero degrees Celsius, you want to replace all the blood and the rest of the water against a medical-grade antifreeze.
  • It's very important to say, we don't freeze anything.
  • Though, of course, the headline always says, this organization is freezing people and so on.
  • In more technical terms, we vitrify them, which is like a glass-like amorphous state which allows tissue to be stored without any further damage in a state where potentially future technology might be able to,
  • Well, resuscitate.
  • The cryoprocess causes massive, probably unrecoverable damage to the body.
  • There is no technology, now or even vaguely on the horizon, that could reverse that damage.
  • But whatever is left, patient, corpse, assembly of frozen stuff, gets stacked up in stainless steel containers here, submerged in liquid nitrogen, until, well, until it's possible to recover them, which could very well be never.
  • So, obvious question, how does a dead person pay for a service that, if all goes to plan, will continue indefinitely?
  • While someone is alive, there's a small membership fee with us.
  • And then at the time of death, it's around €200,000.
  • But this is a one-time fee.
  • The largest part is given to a non-profit organisation.
  • They invest that money with around 1% to 2% above inflation in return expectation, sufficient then to maintain cryopreservation.
  • And you have that money that you put aside, inflation adjusted in the future for, well, whatever medical procedure might be necessary to pay for reintegration, for retraining, you know, to get used to the future again.
  • One of the goals of our organisation is to, over time, not only make the cryopreservation procedures better, but also make it significantly more affordable.
  • Somewhere in the, you know, mid-five-figure range maybe should be possible over time.
  • A reminder, that's the CEO of the company.
  • His view is going to be biased.
  • But one of the reasons I was comfortable filming here is that he was very candid about the chances of this working.
  • We would never state that there's any X percent that this works.
  • Cryopreservation is not a medical procedure.
  • It's a research procedure.
  • No one in the world can say if and when cryopreservation might work.
  • Long-term storage is always done with foundations.
  • We have bylaws and statutes that make the foundation from day-to-day perspective very slow, very, you know, sluggish, and there's a lot of inertia to change stuff.
  • All of that is there to maximise for longevity.
  • I would like to live on as long as I can and long as I want to.
  • I don't only want that for me, but I think that should be everybody's right.
  • Ideally, I would never like to be cryopreserved.
  • I would like to do whatever treatments there will be when I'm 95 and whatever, you know, medication I need to take when I'm 60 to then make that happen.
  • Should I die at 60 of a heart attack or something like that, then I'd much rather be cryopreserved than I'm being cremated or buried.
  • It might turn out it never works, but the alternative has as close to zero a chance as you can ever have.
  • This, right now, is an option for a tiny minority of rich people, and it probably won't work.
  • But I do think that humanity should be trying to defeat death, so I find it difficult to argue against someone who'd take this option when I know what the alternative is.