On May 10, 2016, I visited with Tim Gibson of UK Cryonics in Sheffield UK. It was a very wet day and Tim very kindly invited me to his home to see the workhorse of their operation, their ambulance. The elegance of UK Cryonics’s set up is that it is simple and it works very well. UK Cryonics does not have a facility. While the large storage units of a cryonics facility always generate a “wow!”, the really critical step of any cryonics operation is the standby and transportation. I don’t want to sound melodramatic, but it can be a case of garbage in, garbage out. Don’t get me wrong! The storage facilities and the people operating them are vitally important, but you need to get the first parts of the whole process (i.e. the standby and transportation) right otherwise your chances of a good suspension drop off rapidly. My strong impression is that UK Cryonics has got it right. Their focus is on the standby and transportation. There is relatively little investment and costs because there is no facility to be built, manned, and maintained. Because there is no facility you do not have anywhere near the same level of problems running the facility itself, cumbersome governmental authorization and permitting requirements, or face complex legislative issues. Obviously a few prerequisites need to be met, but these are not anywhere near as onerous as building and operating a facility.
Of course, UK Cryonics has some significant logistical advantages versus what we have in Australia. Tim is situated in Sheffield, which is almost in the very center of the UK. Because of the relatively small size of the UK (about the size and vaguely the shape of the state of Victoria in Australia) they can reach most locations within 3 hours with their vehicle. A little longer and they can be in the western part of Europe. Additionally, they can get to the two main cryonics facilities in the US 10 to 12 hours after they vitrify and bring the patient to dry ice temperature.
UK Cryonics members are typically also members of Alcor or the Cryonics Institute. Remember that UK cryonics has no facility of its own. The cost of UK Cryonics membership is about $500 a year. For a member standby, preparation and transportation to the US currently costs about $30,000 for the UK and $50,000 for the reachable parts of Europe. Non members pay about $10,000 more.
So what does UK cryonics have?
Firstly, an extremely well fitted out ambulance. Unfortunately it was raining very heavily and I did not get a chance to take a photo of the outside of the ambulance. If you are interested it is on their web site. I did take some video of the inside. The video I took shows how well fitted out it is, but my non-professional camera work may not do it full justice. Take my word for it, it is impressive. Additionally, working with a strong network of local funeral directors, UK Cryonics have the expertise, equipment and chemicals to do a full vitrification perfusion to dry ice temperatures. As I mentioned, the trip to the US is then about 10 to 12 hours. Using their special transportation container, combined with these relatively short travel times, the patient remains very close to dry ice temperature throughout the journey so the latest techniques in vitrification can be used. They also have excellent links with Alcor and the Cryonics Institute allowing a very smooth transfer of the patient to the US facilities. It is speedy, efficient and very effective. Above all UK Cryonics has dedicated people like Tim who go out of their way to make sure you get a good suspension.
I would like to thank Tim for the time he spent with me. Tim has in-depth knowledge of what he is doing and approaches his cryonics activities in a very professional manner. UK cryonics is in excellent hands.