Frozen: 8 Amazing Stories of Cryopreservation

1The 2-year-old who died from brain cancer and became the youngest person to be cryogenically preserved

In 2015, a two-year-old girl who died from a brain tumor was frozen, in the hope she will one day be revived by advances in science.

Matheryn Naovaratpong, from Thailand, is thought to be the youngest person ever cryogenically preserved. The toddler was found to have an aggressive form of cancer after she failed to wake up one morning. She was diagnosed with ependymoblastoma, a rare form of brain cancer that afflicts the very young.

After a months of intensive treatment, including 12 rounds of brain surgery, 20 chemotherapy treatments, and 20 radiation therapy sessions, it became clear there was little more doctors could do.

She died on January 8m 2015 after her parents switched off her life support machine. By the time she passed away, she had lost 80 per cent of the left side of her brain, essentially paralyzing the right side of her body.

Determined for some good to come from her death, her family had her body cryogenically preserved by one of the biggest providers of its kind in the world.

The little girl is currently at the Arizona-based cryogenics facility, Alcor. Her brain and body have been frozen separately at 196C.

Her family’s main hope is that one day science will have progressed enough to restore life to her. Alternatively, her parents want the cells from her brain and other parts of her body to be saved, so the disease that killed her can be studied in the future.

Just in case you are wondering, “membership” to Alcor costs $770 a year, plus a rather hefty $80,000 for the “neuro” procedure Matheryn had. It’s $200,000 to have a full body frozen.


2The Ponzi Scheme fraudster who stole money to freeze his wife

An alleged financial fraudster used backers’ money for a personal and uncommon purpose, prosecutors say – to have his wife’s body cryogenically frozen.

Whileon Chay told investors he was putting their money in commodities, foreign exchange trading pools and precious metals, but instead used over $150,000 of it on cryogenics after his wife’s 2009 death.

While Chay’s account of his dealings isn’t yet known, prosecutors say the 38-year-old fled New York for Peru while under investigation in 2011, and they have been unable to locate him since. Neither he nor any lawyer representing him responded to a related civil suit that the Federal Commodities Futures Trading Commission filed against him last year.

Chay solicited more than $5 million from people for investment pools, promising returns around 24 percent a year and telling them there was “no risk in this activity,” prosecutors said. However, he lost over $2 million of the investors’ money and used much of the rest for personal expenses – one investor noticed Chay drove a different luxury car virtually every time they met – and his wife’s preservation.

Prosecutors said Chay bolstered his deceit by sending out bogus account statements and using new investors’ contributions to pay phoney returns to earlier backers.


3The woman with a terminal illness who led a fundraiser for her cryogenic preservation

Cryogenics is something we’ve seen often in our favorite sci-fi movies, but more people are opting to preserve themselves this way. If they can afford it, that is. So,when a 23-year-old neuroscience student was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, she asked the internet for help raising the money to freeze herself until a cure is found. The effort was successful, and Kim Suozzi is now cryogenically preserved.

After finding out she only had a few months to live, Suozzi took to Reddit to ask what she should do with her remaining days. The subject of cryogenic preservation was presented and Suozzi updated the post to ask the internet for help. Futurists, including the Society for Venturism, created a charity to help her acquire the huge amount of money it would take to make cryopreservation possible. The group, a volunteer-run non-profit, is no stranger to this process; it has already successfully raised funds for two cryopreservations and is currently working on another urgent case.

Currently, preservations are done on patients who are clinically dead, and Suozzi was pronounced as such on January 17, 2013. She was diagnosed with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme.


4The heartbroken widow who wants to be cryogenically preserved to reunite with her frozen husband

Bridgetown residents Marta and Helmer Sandberg had always enjoyed life, but when Helmer passed away from a brain tumour in 1994, it was his wish not be cremated, but the complete opposite.

For about $200,000, the former U.S. marine has been cryogenically frozen, and waits in the Detroit-based Cryonics Institute for the time when a human body can be brought back to life.

Ms. Sandberg has also made the decision to come back by being cryogenically frozen when she dies. “I still miss Helmer,” she said. “I still love him. We were together for more than 20 years and they were years of joy and contentment.”

Ms. Sandberg said she hoped both she and Helmer could be revived together, however they haven’t stipulated this as a condition.


5The three academics at Oxford University who are paying to be cryogenically preserved

The belief that death is the only certainty in life is a concept senior academic staff members at Oxford University Institute are hoping to dismantle, by paying to be cryogenically preserved and brought back to life in the future.

Nick Bostrom, professor of philosophy at the Future of Humanity Institute [FHI], and his co-researcher Anders Sandberg have agreed to pay an American company to detach and deep freeze their heads in the advent of their deaths. Colleague Stuart Armstrong also wants to be preserved cryogenically, but is opting to have his whole body frozen.

Bostrom, Armstrong, Sandberg are lead researchers at FHI, which is a part of the prestigious Oxford Martin School where academics research problems affecting the globe, such as a climate change.

However, there is currently no academic research on human cryogenic preservation at the college. The group have set up life insurance policies costing up to £45 a month in premiums that will provide the funds needed to preserve them upon their deaths.

When they are considered terminally ill, a cryopreservation team will wait nearby for a doctor to pronounce them dead. A machine will then be used to keep blood pumping while the body is cooled. The blood stream will be infused with preservatives and anti-freeze to protect tissues.

If only the head is being frozen, it will be detached from the body, before nitrogen gas is used to reduce its temperature to -124C. The patient is finally cooled to -196C before being placed in a vat of liquid nitrogen for storage at a cryogenic preservation facility.


6The baseball legend who was cryogenically frozen after a legal battle

When Boston Red Sox legend Ted Williams passed away at at the age of 83 in July 2002, his body was flown from his home of Iverness, Florida to a center in Arizona where he was cryogenically frozen so that he could be brought back to life in the future.

Though his will stated his desire to be cremated, and his ashes scattered at the Florida Keys, Williams’ son John-Henry (and younger daughter, Claudia) chose to have his remains frozen.

Ted’s elder daughter, Bobby-Jo Ferrell, sued to have her father’s wishes recognized. John-Henry’s lawyer then produced an informal “family pact” signed by Ted, Claudia, and John-Henry, in which they agreed “to be put into biostasis” after they died so they would “be together in the future, even if it is only a chance.”

Bobby-Jo and her attorney, Spike Fitzpatrick (former attorney of Ted Williams), contended that the family pact – which was scribbled on an ink-stained napkin – was forged. However, laboratory analysis proved that the signature was indeed genuine. John-Henry said that his father was a believer in science, and was willing to try cryonics if it held the possibility of reuniting the family.

John-Henry died of leukemia on March 6, 2004. He held up his end of napkin pact and joined his dad at Alcor in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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7The first person to be "successfully" cryogenically frozen

Although there was at least one earlier aborted case, it is generally accepted that the first person frozen with intent of future resuscitation was 73-year-old psychology professor James Bedford. He was preserved under crude conditions by CSC (Cryonics Society of California) on January 12, 1967.

In the cryonics community, the anniversary of his cryopreservation is celebrated as “Bedford Day.” The story even made the cover of a limited print run of Life magazine before the presses were stopped to report the deaths of the three astronauts in the Apollo 1 fire instead.

Bedford’s body was maintained in liquid nitrogen by his family in southern California until 1982, when it was then moved to Alcor Life Extension Foundation, and has remained in their care to the present day.


8The Bitcoin pioneer who was cryogenically frozen after losing his battle with ALS

In 2014, Bitcoin pioneer Hal Finney, widely accredited as the number-two developer behind Satoshi Nakamoto on the world’s most valuable cryptocurrency, passed away following a five year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at the age of 58.

In 2008, one year before he was diagnosed with ALS, Finney was the recipient of the world’s first bitcoin transaction after coming across the technology on a cryptography forum online.

Before his death, he requested that his body be frozen and stored with Alcor. His body is now preserved in a 10 foot tall tank filled with 450 liters of liquid nitrogen, with all of his blood and additional bodily fluids removed.


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