The low-temperature preservation of dead people or people, who cannot be sustained by contemporary medicine, is called Cryonics (Cryopreservation). The temperature maintained is usually −196°C. Although looked at with doubt from the scientific community, there is still a hope in people that resuscitation and restoration to full health will be possible in the future. Cryopreservation of humans is not reversible with present technology.
People are clouded with a lot of speculation and skepticism about the possibility and success of the process. To clear some of it, we have come up with a few questions that need to be answered to remove the long contained doubts.
1 What is Cryogenics in humans?
Human Cryogenics is the technique of freezing dead body or cells than can be resurrected in the future. In the present day Cryogenic freezing is already done with embryos: fertilized ova can be kept in the fridge with good chances of surviving a melt (60%). Based on this, many people believe that this technique can work with whole human beings. Up till now about 177 people and about 60 animals have been frozen after they died.
2 How is it done?
After the individual’s death, the doctors take the body to place it in a tank of liquid nitrogen, stored at -196° C.
There is no decomposition of body cells at such a low temperature. Scientists are of the belief that 500 years from now they will find a way to fight the disease that caused the individual’s death and will unfreeze it.
3 What are the steps involved in Cryopreservation?
Cryopreservation involves the following steps-
(I) When the patient is pronounced dead, doctors try to avoid deterioration of the body by injecting drugs and using machines to maintain the circulation of the body and oxygenation, avoiding the death of singular parts.
(II) The body is wrapped in a kind of blanket, to keep it cool. After wrapping the body is transported to the clinic at low temperatures (-196°C). A low temperature like this requires less oxygen to keep the body tissues alive for a longer time.
(III) In the clinic, the doctor withdraws blood from the patient. A cryoprotective liquid (glycerin-based chemical) is inserted through another tube. This liquid replaces other intracellular compounds, thus preventing the formation of ice crystals within the cells.
(IV) After injecting the substances, the body is kept in a cabin with circulating nitrogen gas for about three hours. This process is carried out to ensure uniform freezing of all the body parts. The patient gets completely vitrified at the end of this step.
(V) The body is then placed in a protective plastic bag and immersed in a liquid nitrogen cylinder, where it is monitored. This stage involves a fair amount of risk too. Fractures may occur in the body, especially in areas that are subjected to vitrification. Even the cryogenic liquid can harden and break. Finally the body is placed in a tube of nitrogen with three more bodies and two heads. Bodies can stay there for hundreds of years until science discovers a way to resurrect them.
4 Where is it performed?
The process is carried out by two companies: Alcor and the Cryonics Institute.
The Alcor Life Extension Foundation is the world leader in cryonics, cryonics research and technology cryonics. Alcor is a non-profit organization located in Scottsdale, Arizona, founded in 1972. They charge –
$ 352 thousand for the whole body
$ 146 thousand for just the head
The Cryonics institute was formed in 1976 to offer Cryogenic services. It aimed at careful preparation, cooling and long-term treatment of the patient in liquid nitrogen. All together the institute has 940 members on roll, 460 Members financed under contracts, 107 human patients, 179 human tissue / DNA samples, 82 pets, and 51 animal tissue / DNA samples.
$ 82000 for whole body
$ 17000 for pets
5 Cryogenics: The immortal weapon for the powerful
The entire process of cryogenic preservation is too costly. It is rather a hope that the dead would resurrect. This is in fact against the natural law. In most religions, it is believed that the human being is formed of matter and spirit and that after death, the soul finds its eternal rest. It questions the possibility from the religious point of view, for a person to return after his death.
6 The complications of Cryogenics
Cryogenics has been controversial and also utilized in umbilical cord stem cells and embryonic stem cells for a number of years. This could be possible only because chemicals were created that prevented the liquid inside to freeze and cause a rupture. Everyone knows that inside cells it is mostly water. By freezing there is an increase in intracellular volume. If not controlled, the cell wall breaks and causes death. Imagine this problem applied to a human. Also the chemicals to protect the cells have not yet been invented.
7 How does Cryogenic process work?
When the patient is pronounced dead, he is taken dead until everything becomes feasible. When the heart stops beating and death is declared, a technical team takes action. The team then installs a supportive treatment to keep the body alive. Oxygen is provided to preserve minimal function so it can be transported to the suspension facility.
The body is packed in ice and a solution of heparin (an anticoagulant) is injected to prevent the blood from clotting. A medical team then waits for the body to be received at the cryogenic preservation facility. The technicians here know the processes of cell death. Since a cell in the normal state is composed mainly of water, after freezing the tendency is for that water to form into ice crystals.
Upon expansion, ice crystals squeeze and damage the different organelles. Then a process called glazing begins. It causes the water to move more and more slowly – the body and its cells thus enter into the so-called state of suspended animation.
8 Moral and legal issues
When under the religious beliefs, a man gets attached to the religion. Human beings are believed to be formed of a material part (body) and a non-physical component (spirit or soul). Post death, the soul heads for an eternal rest. This slaps the possibility of the return of a non-physical part after death.
According to the law, only those declared legally dead can be frozen. But according to the latest scientific knowledge, this does not mean that the person is totally dead. This part is important for the Cryogenization process. Total death is defined when brain functions cease, while legal death occurs when the heart stops beating; however the body still has some brain functions.
So, would only people under these conditions return to life? What if it were still legal death to bring the person back with such commonly used medical procedures? Who would decide about legal death?
9 About Cryogenic and Cryobiology
Cryogenics is a branch of physicochemistry that deals with the study of technologies for the production of very low temperatures (below -150 ° C, -238 ° F or 123 K), up to the boiling temperature of liquid nitrogen. The behavior of the elements and materials at those temperatures exploits the effects of thermal transfer between an agent and the medium. This branch of science is constantly associated with its main branch, cryobiology, which is the study of low temperatures in organisms.
Cryobiology is the branch of biology dealing with the study of effects of low temperatures on living cells, tissues and organisms. The word comes from the Greek cryo = cold, bios = life, and logos = science.
In daily practice, cryobiology studies compounds or biological systems at temperatures below normal temperatures. The compounds or systems may include proteins, cells, tissues, organs, or an entire organism. Temperatures can range from moderate hypothermic conditions to cryogenic temperatures.