If the YouTube videos do not show please click here. Please pardon my poor video skills. The idea was to capture as much as possible, while carrying on a conversation.
As I mentioned in a previous entry, I spent time in the US in early May visiting Alcor and the Cryonics Institute (CI). I spent two days at each facility and was fortunate enough to be there when a lot was happening.
I want to say straight from the onset that the people at both facilities imbue professionalism and dedication. Everyone I met was hard working, knowledgeable and, most importantly, very friendly. I am sure you will see this displayed as I describe what I saw there. Yes, I would put my long term life at either of these facilities. Those who know me, know how critical I can be and am not easily impressed.
Alcor: May 6, 2014
I arrived at Alcor on the day when there was a delivery of a “big foot” Dewar (large cryonics storage vacuum flask used by Alcor). The people I met were Max Moore, Hugh Hixon, Aaron Drake, Diane Cremeens, Steve Graber and others, who were all very friendly and welcoming. Also, things were hectic because they had received word that a patient had very recently died in another State. I talked with Max and Hugh and was taken for a tour of the facility by both of them. Meanwhile, Aaron Drake worked the phones organizing his trip to claim the patient and to try to get the patient released from the officials. The patient was a “neuro” and the death was under somewhat suspicious circumstances. Aaron had to negotiate with the local authorities in a rural town in Alabama to both obtain release of the patient (neuro) and to make sure they did not conduct an autopsy on the brain. It was touch and go, but Aaron’s skills won through in the end. Aaron and Steve then left on a hired private jet to recover the patient. The neuro perfusion was scheduled for 2am the next morning, immediately after the anticipated arrival of the patient. Yes 2 am. I was very graciously invited to attend.
In the meantime there was a delivery of a “big foot” Dewar about to take place. It was “all hands on deck” to take the deliver. As I now know, it is not an easy operation. I took video of the arrival. This segment shown here was only a short part of a long activity, which needed utmost care in order to not damage the Dewar. Max and Hugh worked the forklift trucks. Steve, who needed to fly out with Aaron, assisted until it was time to leave. The work was successfully competed after many long hours in the very hot sun. Time for me to leave to let the others get ready for the patient arrival at 2am in the morning.
Alcor: May 7, 2014
I arrived back at the facility at 2am the next day. Everyone was already there. Aaron and Steve had brought the patient. Max, Hugh and Steve were then all there manning the equipment and the team included a surgeon and others to assist. I will not go into the details of the procedure. I did take copious notes, but understandably I was not allowed to film what was happening. Alcor is very careful about patient confidentiality and rightly so. The profusion I witnessed was an intensive process, which followed established protocols. I was very impressed that near enough was not good enough. All the conditions and tests had to meet their predetermined requirements. For example, a neuro profusion typically may take about 1 hour or so. Because of some clotting in the brain and other complications, this profusion lasted for over three hours. Certain specific criteria in the written protocols had to be met before the perfusion would be stopped and the patient could move to the next stage. No one gave up until this criteria was met. Many of those there had not slept for over 24 hours, but did not stop until everything was done as specified.
The video shows the perfusion area for a neuro, but, of course, this is before the patient was there. Again the privacy of the patient was considered paramount.
Cryonics Institute: May 13, 2014
I could not have timed my visits any better at both facilities. On the first day I arrived at the Cryonics Institute I was greeted by Dennis Kowalski, Andy Zawacki, Joe Kowalsky and Doug Golner. Cryonics must just breed friendly people. Like at Alcor all were extremely personable and friendly. On that day there was a visit of about 40 biology students from a local high school as part of CI’s outreach program to the community. Although their teacher was not into cryonics, she organized these visits with her classes each year to ensure her students kept an open and inquiring mind about all new developments. I was very impressed by the depth of the questions asked by the students, ranging from science to economic and philosophic issues. I did not take video of this segment because, very understandably, the taking of pictures of students without their parents permission is not allowed. During this session Joe also showed a video of his Cryoprize program. The whole visit, which lasted a couple of hours, ended with a fun exercise where ice cream was made using the liquid nitrogen.
Cryonics Institute: May 14, 2014
Dennis, Andy and Steve took me for an in depth tour of the facility. Because of my interest in standby Dennis went through all the equipment they would recommend obtaining. We discussed putting together simplified standby/transportation procedures that could be used by laypersons, then a more complex set of procedures for professionals. I volunteered to try to put something together, working with the material I had from CI, Alcor and the Aaron Drake visit. We talked about releasing it to all interested.
There is a lot more material I have from both organizations, but I promised this would only be a summary of my visit.
I would like to thank the people at both Alcor and the Cryonics Institute for making me feel so welcome and for generously providing me of their time. I have a lot of material now for the work I am doing for both CSA and SSA. This includes:
- Strong understanding of client documentation, life insurance and other administrative requirements
- Better understanding of facility, equipments needs, skills and training needs
- Clear understanding of standby/transportation requirements
More about all this in forthcoming blogs. Regarding standby/transportation, the next steps are to start putting together the preliminary procedures and developing a workable network that may apply in Australia, but may also be used in the cryonics world. Of course these will evolve over time as we update/improve the methods and develop new training material.
Regards, Peter T.