"Longevity through technology, education, and research"
Immortalist Society Research Program:
General Interest of Cryonicists in Research
An important aspect of cryonics is the interest that cryonicists have in doing proper scientific research. Cryonics is not, as is sometimes alleged by its opponents, a cult or some some sort of religious belief system. Robert Ettinger, the individual who is generally acknowledged to be the "father of cryonics", had scientific training himself, possessing a Master's Degree in Physics and a second Master's Degree in Mathematics. Mr. Ettinger, throughout his life, maintained a scientific attitude towards cryonics and was always interested in what could be done to improve the process to increase an individual's chances of being successfully revived and rejuvenated by future technology. Cryonics is based on the concept that you can place individuals, at or near the time of their clinical death, at ultra low temperatures and then, if civilization endures, medical science should eventually be able to revive the individual, repair them of their injuries or whatever disease they had, whatever damage the cryonics process caused, and then rejuvenate them and restore them to a state of reasonable youth and good health.
Cryonicists do not, however, simply sit around and wait for good things to happen. All cryonics organizations are very interested in how they can lessen the burden on future science and how they can improve the process of cryonics (sometimes called "cryonic suspension" or "cryopreservation"). Down through the years several research efforts have been carried out.
Two Efforts/Projects of the Immortalist Society
The Immortalist Society has, at present, developed two efforts to deal with the problems of research in cryonics. A very recent development has been the decision of the Immortalist Society to start an Organ Cryopreservation Prize. To read more about the Organ Cryopreservation Prize, click here. Once you've finished reading about this interesting and helpful concept, you can return here for some more general information about cryonics research sponsored by the Immortalist Society, as well as having a link to the interesting research specifically conducted by ANB, Inc.
A second, and more lengthy effort, has been the work the Immortalist Society has done through research it contracts with through Advanced Neural Biosciences, Inc., an Oregon based company. The information that is below is information concerning both cryonics research in general and some information about the research work done by ANB, Inc. in particular.
Some Issues in Cryonics:
It was hoped by many cryonicists early in its development that cryonics would eventually be a routine part of "end of life" care and would be carried out in hospitals and other health care institutions throughout the world. Regrettably, that has not been the case though cryonicists are still hopeful this will occur in the future. Even if it were the case, cryonics, like traditional medical care, would still have to be carried out, in some instances, in less than perfect conditions. In the case of traditional medical care, the person whose heart stops while they are lying on an emergency room bed obviously has a better chance of having their heart restarted than someone whose heart stops in the middle of a lake when they are with a couple of friends on a fishing expedition. That person has a better chance of getting their heart restarted than someone whose heart stops while they are hiking alone in the middle of a forest.
There are, of course, in cryonics, varying situations in which persons will enter clinical death (frequently referred to in cryonics as "deanimation" to help distinguish it from "biological death/permanent death"). At times cryonics is not carried out routinely in a hospital setting as was first hoped, though, on occasion, some hospitals have been helpful in the effort. More recently, the development of "hospice care" has made it possible for procedures to be carried out, in some instances, as part of the patient's last wishes. In the case of Robert Ettinger, the founder of cryonics, his placement in hospice care resulted in the hospice caregivers being a great deal of help during the time period before the cryonic suspension procedures themselves were actually started.
A member of Mr. Ettinger's immediate family stated that one of the lessons emphasized from this was the need to be as prepared as one can be given the circumstances. One employee of the Cryonics Institute, the cryonics organization that was involved in Mr. Ettinger's situation, stated that Mr. Ettinger's suspension was one of the best ones that the Cryonics Institute had done. People knowledgeable about the particulars of Mr. Ettinger's case say that the efforts of the hospice workers, in addition to Mr. Ettinger's family working diligently at being fully prepared, were greatly helpful in the excellent outcome that occurred.
So, the lesson is, in the motto of the Boy Scouts of America, "Be prepared". Cryonics organizations attempt to do that through the use of research information gathered both in the area of low temperature biology ("cryobiology") and in other areas of science. Further, they have engaged in research programs down through the years to help improve cryonics procedures. It should be noted, however, on the negative side that no amount of preparation can suffice in what is, at this point, a far from perfect world. One cryonicist died in the middle of a desert and their body was not recovered for some time. Another cryonicist was lost in the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings on September 11, 2012. No amount of preparation can, of course, adequately prepare one for these very extreme circumstances.
On the positive side, the reality is that most people enter clinical death in pretty routine ways, due to either disease or accident. In many cases, as in Mr. Ettinger's case, there is sufficient advance warning that well thought out procedures planned and prepared for ahead of time can increase an individual's chances of a more efficient and therefore, hopefully, a more thorough state of preservation with as little damage to organs and tissues as possible.
One of the most robust findings of the ANB, Inc. research is that rapid induction of hypothermia (lowering the body's temperature) after the heart and lungs stop working, is beneficial in cryonics patients. Other findings of the ANB research continue to be studied and, where seemingly rationally useful, are attempted to be implemented in the practice of cryonics. The Immortalist Society is extremely pleased with the work that ANB, Inc. researchers have done that we feel will ultimately be beneficial to cryonics patients.
(Note: Individuals undergoing cryonics are referred to as "patients" as cryonics organizations consider them to be analogous to an individual whose heart and lungs have stopped being in the back of an ambulance speeding towards a hospital. Until it is determined at the hospital that the individual is beyond help, the person is still a patient. In the case of cryonics, the "ambulance" is the cryonics procedure and the "hospital" is future medical science and general technology).
For a more detailed paper on the ANB research efforts, click on the third button in the second row below. For information on the Organ Cryopreservation Prize, click on the third button in the last row.
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