CRYONICS- RAISING THE DEAD

A path towards immortality or a fool's quest to play god.
The first person to be cryogenically frozen was James Bedford. He was an American businessman from Maine. (IMAGE: CDC PHIL)
The first person to be cryogenically frozen was James Bedford. He was an American businessman from Maine. (IMAGE: CDC PHIL)

Cryonics is the process of preserving a person's body at very low temperatures to be able to revive them at some point in the future. Cryopreservation, or cryo-preservation, is the term used for this procedure. The first person to be cryogenically frozen was James Bedford, who died on January 12, 1967. He was an American businessman from Maine. The first successful case of cryonics was that of Robert Ettinger. He had his head frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen after he died on November 10th, 1991. His head was thawed out and revived by Alcor Life Extension Foundation. This was the first time anyone had attempted bringing the dead back to life successfully. His legal death was recorded to be July 23, 2011.

The first person to be cryogenically frozen was James Bedford. He was an American businessman from Maine. (IMAGE: CDC PHIL)
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The process involves the removal of all biological tissue, including blood, and replacing it with cryoprotectant chemicals (such as glycerol). This preserves the brain in its original state, but prevents any biochemical activity from occurring. In addition to being cryogenically preserved, patients are given an intravenous infusion of cryoprotectant chemicals throughout their lifetime to be reanimated after death, should medical technology gets advance enough to revive them.

Cryonic suspension is a process that preserves an individual's body at very low temperatures in liquid nitrogen. The procedure involves cooling the entire body to -196°C, where it remains until reanimation. Cryonics is a controversial field of medical sciences, but it has been practiced since the 1950s by cryobiologists such as Robert Nelson and Alcor Life Extension Foundation (ALIFE). ALIFE, founded in 1975, by a group of scientists who believed that cryonics could be used for human medical purposes.

Cryopreservation of people or huge creatures is not reversible with a new application. Time expansion refers to the increase in peak or normal life, particularly in humans, by slowing down or reversing aging processes. Normal life is defined by exposure to accidents and age or lifestyle-related afflictions, e.g., cancer or cardiovascular illness. Normal life can be expanded by better diet, exercise, and avoiding risks, e.g., smoking. Maximum life is also defined by the pace of aging for the species inherent in its factors. Presently, the only widely recognized method of expanding maximum life is calorie regulation.

Cryogenics is supposedly a Way to suspend Animation of Living to a Questionable Better Future.The arguments in favour of cryonics say that the simplest of those arguments is one of free will and choice. As long as people are informed of the very small chance of success of future re-animation, and they are not being coerced, then their choice is an expression of their autonomy about how they wish to direct the disposal of their bodies and resources after death.

Dr. Deepanjan Roy, MBBS, MD-Medicine(PGY1) [SCB Medical College and Hospital Cuttack]

Cryopreservation of people or huge creatures is not reversible with a new application. Time expansion refers to the increase in peak or normal life, particularly in humans, by slowing down or reversing aging processes. 
(IMAGE: CDC PHIL)
Cryopreservation of people or huge creatures is not reversible with a new application. Time expansion refers to the increase in peak or normal life, particularly in humans, by slowing down or reversing aging processes. (IMAGE: CDC PHIL)
The first person to be cryogenically frozen was James Bedford. He was an American businessman from Maine. (IMAGE: CDC PHIL)
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Cryonics is the process of cryo-preserving the substance to prevent the physical decomposition processes that happen after death. Those practicing cryonics trust that emerging applications would permit the legally dead individual to be restored to the time when and if science is able to cure all illnesses, Rejuvenate people to a youthful shape, and repair harm from the cryopreservation activity itself. As of 2007, there were around 150 people in some kind of cryopreservation in one of the two largest cryonics organizations, Alcor living expansion education and the cryonics association. In some countries, full-body contributions have been promoted by medical schools to be used in medical education and related training and investigation. In the United States, these gifts and organ contributions are regulated by the Uniform Anatomical Sharing Act. In addition to caring to help others, people might decide to give their bodies to prevent the value of funeral agreements; However, willed body programs frequently inspire families to make alternative arrangements for burial if the body is not accepted.

In cryogenic facilities, patients cannot be kept in containers of liquid nitrogen because the water inside the cells freezes. 
(IMAGE : CDC PHIL)
In cryogenic facilities, patients cannot be kept in containers of liquid nitrogen because the water inside the cells freezes. (IMAGE : CDC PHIL)

Cryonics is a little different than resuscitation after falling into a frozen lake. First of all, it is illegal to perform cryonic suspension on someone who is still alive. A person undergoing this procedure must first be declared dead. The term is legally dead. That is, the heart must stop beating. But if they are dead, how can they be revived? According to cryonics scientists, "legally dead" is not the same as "permanently dead." Complete death, according to them, is the point at which all brain functions cease. Legal death occurs when the heart stops beating, but brain cells remain functional. Cryonics preserves the small remaining cellular processes so that the person can theoretically be revived in the future.

The first person to be cryogenically frozen was James Bedford. He was an American businessman from Maine. (IMAGE: CDC PHIL)
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Once transported to the freezing facility, the actual "freezing" begins. In cryogenic facilities, patients cannot be kept in containers of liquid nitrogen because the water inside the cells freezes. When water freezes, it expands - this simply causes the cells to burst. Cryonics teams must first remove the water from the cells and replace it with a glycerin-based chemical compound called a cryoprotectant (a type of human antifreeze). Its purpose is to protect organs and tissues from the formation of ice crystals at cryogenic temperatures. This process, called vitrification (deep cooling without freezing), renders the cells in a suspended state. Once the moisture in the body has been replaced by cryoprotectant, a bed of dry ice cools the body until it reaches -130°C (-202°F), completing the vitrification process. The next step is to place your body in a customized container upside down. It is then placed in a large metal tank filled with liquid nitrogen at a temperature of about -196 degrees Celsius (-320 degrees Fahrenheit). The brain remains submerged in the frozen liquid.

Cryonics procedures have seen many improvements over time, including new techniques such as vitrification, which allows preservation at room temperature without freezing damage.

Cryonics procedures have seen many improvements over time, including new techniques such as vitrification, which allows preservation at room temperature without freezing damage.
(IMAGE : CDC PHIL)
Cryonics procedures have seen many improvements over time, including new techniques such as vitrification, which allows preservation at room temperature without freezing damage. (IMAGE : CDC PHIL)

Vitrification is a process of rapidly cooling the blood to below-freezing temperatures. This causes the blood cells to form ice crystals and pack together, forming a solid mass. The rapid cooling also stops the formation of new red blood cells and platelets, which can cause bleeding in some people who are on anticoagulants (blood thinners)—the process of creating a glass-like structure in an organ or tissue that can be used for transplantation.

The first person to be cryogenically frozen was James Bedford. He was an American businessman from Maine. (IMAGE: CDC PHIL)
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The process involves freezing the tissue to -196°C and then rapidly cooling it back to room temperature without damaging the cells. This has been achieved using cryoprotectants such as sucrose, glycerol, dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), and ethylene oxide (EO). These compounds are dissolved in water before freezing and thawed after defrosting.

Cryobiologists hope that one day, nanotechnology will make a revival a reality. 
(IMAGE : CDC PHIL)
Cryobiologists hope that one day, nanotechnology will make a revival a reality. (IMAGE : CDC PHIL)
The first person to be cryogenically frozen was James Bedford. He was an American businessman from Maine. (IMAGE: CDC PHIL)
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The ethics of cryonics is a complex topic, and I would like to start with some general principles. The first principle states that it is unethical to do harm to another person. This includes the possibility of doing harm by freezing someone who has no chance of being revived. It also includes the possibility of doing harm by not freezing someone who could be revived if they were unfrozen in time.

Critics say the companies that operate cryonics are just taking money from people with promises of immortality they can't deliver. One problem is that the cells can freeze and burst if the heating process is not done at the proper speed.

Humans have not yet been reanimated from cryo-suspension, but small animals have been reanimated from dead or near-death. A defibrillator and CPR brings accident and heart attack victims back from the dead almost every day. Neurosurgeons often cool patients' bodies so they can operate on aneurysms -- enlarged blood vessels in the brain -- without damaging or rupturing them. Human embryos that are frozen in fertility clinics, defrosted and implanted in a mother's uterus grow into perfectly normal human beings.

Cryobiologists hope that one day, nanotechnology will make a revival a reality. Nanotechnology uses microscopic machines to manipulate single atoms - the smallest units of an organism - to build or repair virtually anything, including human cells and tissues. It is hoped that one day, nanotechnology will not only repair cell damage caused by freezing, but also damage caused by aging and disease. Some cryobiologists predict that the first cryonic renaissance may occur around 2040.

Cryonics aren’t cheap. Saving a full body can cost up to $150,000. But for the more frugal futurists, just $50,000 can keep your brain forever. Hopefully, technology finds a way to replicate or regenerate the rest of the body for those preserved in this way.

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