One short sleep past, we wake eternally

Interview with Cryonics Society of Canada president Christine Gaspar

One of the more interesting areas of scientific study today is known as cryopreservation, or cryonics. This field of scientific research involves using technological means to cool living tissue, organs, and organisms to the point where physical decay stops indefinitely, in the hope that resuscitation may be possible in the future.

Recently, the Manitoban had the opportunity to delve further into this topic, via an interview with Christine Gaspar, president of the Cryonics Society of Canada.

The Manitoban: What are the main organizations that specialize in cryopreservation?

Christine Gaspar: The Alcor (acronym closely related to “Allopathic Cryogenic Rescue”) Life Extension Foundation, and the Cryonics Institute are the two main organizations in North America that offer cryopreservation and long-term storage. They have different business structures and very different prices.

Alcor is the world leader in cryonics, cryonics research, and cryonics technology. It was founded in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1972.

The Cryonics Institute is a non-profit, membership-based organization, founded in 1976, by Robert Ettinger (also known as “the father of cryonics”). The institute owns and operates a fully-operational cryonics facility, located in Clinton Township, Michigan.

KrioRus in Russia is a third option. It is the first, and currently only, cryonics company in Europe or Asia.

M: What is the process for signing up, and how many members are there currently?

CG: Each organization has a process for membership that includes the requisite paperwork. Most people that sign up opt to have their services funded through a life insurance policy, the kind where you can get a no exam plan for age 40 and over, which is a standard in corporate settings. The organizations can best advise you on which insurance companies are most ideal for this purpose.

You will likely pay a small amount in membership dues, and then upon pronouncement, your insurance policy (or alternate means of funding) will be applied to your immediate needs. Alcor currently has 1,058 members, and 121 patients in its care according to its web page. [The Cryonics Institute] has a very similar number.

M: What is the legal status of cryonics in Canada?

CG: Cryonics is not illegal in Canada. It is regarded as an end-of-life choice, and there are no legal barriers to performing this service. The only exception is in British Columbia, which passed a law several years ago forbidding the marketing of cryonics services. Members in B.C. have been successfully cryopreserved, though, within full observation of the law.

M: What is cryopreservation’s relationship with the law, since it deals with the disposal of dead bodies?

CG: Cryonics patients are legally dead, so although there are no specific laws which deal with cryopreservation, cryonics organizations handle patients while observing the laws governing anatomical donations of a body to science and the laws that govern the funeral service. Transportation of patients is done in collaboration with a licensed funeral director, after a person has been legally pronounced and certified as deceased by the appropriate medical provider.

By keeping the wishes of the patient known, and the process transparent, legal authorities generally do not take issue with the practice.

M: What does mainstream science think of cryopreservation?

CG: Mainstream science has historically been skeptical of cryonics, as it is a process that cannot yet be reversed by modern technology. There has been a shift, though, in recent years, in the mainstream, where cryonics has been viewed less and less like science fiction and more like a plausible near-future advancement.

How cryonicists respond is quite varied. The Cryonics Society of Canada exists to try to educate the public about cryonics and to advocate for its members. Some members are very vocal and positive about their involvement. Others prefer to keep the matter private.

2 Comments on "One short sleep past, we wake eternally"

  1. I wouldn’t call Alcor the leader in cryonics at least not any more. I think cryonics institute has passed them up.

  2. Gerald Croft | April 10, 2014 at 2:34 pm |

    Nice Article. I suppose Cryonics can still be looked at as something quite geeky. I am a member of a Cryonics group and have been for many years. I joined knowing that at this early stage in Cryonics that the chances of “reanimation” are still quite slim. But the alternatives of Burial or cremation are definitely a dead end (excuse the pun). Cryonics does give you a chance of indefinite life, however slim that chance is.
    For those that find life becoming boring, well then, I can personally have a million and one things I wish to do and even with life’s tribulations I wish to continue.
    If it doesn’t work then I will have closed my eyes and won’t know it didn’t work. If It works then it will be a big bonus to say the least. I have always found most people in general accept my decision and are quite open minded. Some do say “Why would you want to live forever?!! I wouldn’t want that as it’s not normal” My answer is that because of the things I want to do. As for not being unnatural? Well, so is taking medicines and having operations, genetic modification, radiotherapy etc but we all accept it as part of modern life.
    What is going to happen when doctors and surgeons have the ability to reanimate humans or grow new body parts for a badly damaged humans? Would anyone say no to a procedure that would save a life? Would anyone say they’d rather die than have a procedure that would save their life? Cryonics is just a possibility. A possibility that might just work.

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