14 yr old girl dies from cancer has her body cryogenically frozen so that she could be brought back to life in the future
A 14 year old girl from London in the UK has been allowed by the High Court to have her body cryogenically frozen. The teenager had a rare form of cancer and had written to the judge saying that she did not want to die and did not want to be buried underground.
She went on to say she wants to live and live longer and believes that in the future a cure might be found for her cancer and then she would be woken up even if this only took place in hundreds of year time. This was her wish.
The court ruled that the teenager’s mother, who supported the girl’s wish to be cryogenically preserved, should be the only person allowed to make decisions about the disposal of her body. Her estranged father had initially opposed her wishes and had not seen her before she died.
Immediately after her death, her body had been flown to America and she was slowly chilled over two to three weeks in Liquid Nitrogen and stored next to around 150 other bodies.
If the treatment is successful and she is brought back to life in the future, she might not have any relatives and might not remember things. She will be in the United States and not her home country and she might be in a desperate situation seeing that she is only 14 years old.
She is in one of America’s two main cryo-facilities – the Cryonics Institute near Detroit – where its founder Robert Ettinger was frozen with two of his wives when he died aged 92.
Around 250 people have spent huge sums cryo-preserving their bodies – the first was Dr James Bedford in 1967.
Thousands more have paid up to £150,000 to do the same when they die.
A device called a ‘heart-lung resuscitator’ is used to get the blood pumping through the body again, when required, and medication is applied to the body to prevent the cells from deteriorating.
Blood and bodily fluids are drained, then they are replaced with a solution like antifreeze.
But the process is hugely controversial, especially with scientists and doctors, because it has never been possible to successfully revive a human or any mammal frozen in this way.
The girl had wanted to be ‘cryo-preserved’ after her death, in the hope she could be ‘woken up’ if doctors found a cure for her rare form of cancer – and wrote to a High Court judge begging for her wishes to be respected.
She died last month and is now suspended in freezing nitrogen at a cryogenic centre in the US.
Bodies are drained of blood on table with ice then frozen slowly over several weeks until the temperature is minus 196 degrees.
Subsequently the body is then kept in a regulated cylinder.
Since the first preservation by freezing in the 1960s the process has been performed only a few hundred times. The body has to be prepared shortly after death, ideally within minutes. Arrangements then have to be made for the body to be transported by a registered funeral director.
“The scientific theory underlying cryonics is speculative and controversial, and there is considerable debate about its ethical implications,” Jackson said. “On the other hand, cryopreservation, the preservation of cells and tissues by freezing, is now a well-known process in certain branches of medicine, for example the preservation of sperm and embryos as part of fertility treatment. Cryonics is cryopreservation taken to its extreme.”
The judge said the girl’s family was not well off but that her mother’s parents had raised the money. A voluntary UK group of cryonics enthusiasts, who were not medically trained, had offered to help make arrangements.
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