The Maybe Not End of Life Choice – Cryonics


May 8, 2015 by kittynh

Shannon Vyff is a friend I admire in many ways.  She’s a terrific mother, a lover of the outdoors yet also at home in museums and an activist.  She mentioned once she was interested in cryonics, and she is the first person I’ve met that has gone beyond contemplating it, to actually having plans in place for this end of life (or perhaps not end) choice.  I asked her to please share an over view for those of us that know little of cryonics besides science fiction.  Thank you Shannon, as I learned a lot about a topic that I’ve always been interested in learning about.

My great grandfather in medical school.  He's not the one on the slab!  But what to do after death is a choice we have to make while we're still alive.

My great grandfather in medical school. He’s not the one on the slab! But what to do after death is a choice we have to make while we’re still alive.

I’ve been a cryonicist since I was a little kid. Not technically signed up as a kid, but I was a science fiction junky then, and I sort of just assumed that it was something people could do. I didn’t learn till I was a teen that people could not actually freeze themselves and be thawed out to resume living, or do long term suspended animation, or basically most things that are in science fiction. At age 15 I saw on the news that a man with brain cancer in California had lost his lawsuit bid to have his brain frozen before death. I was surprised that it was a “real thing” and looked into it. Clearly people could not be brought back, but the idea that maybe future technology could repair conditions that current medicine could not was appealing to me. It just seemed like common sense and I knew I wanted to try it because if it didn’t work I’d be dead anyway so it wouldn’t really matter.

  Since learning at 15 that cryonics was a real thing one could try the idea was implanted that I wanted to sign up some day. Fast forward a few years to age 21. I had a high-risk pregnancy that no one knew what the outcome would be. I wanted to be cryonically preserved if something did happen to me, and I wanted the baby to be the priority and saved if possible. I called Cryonics Institute and had a membership package sent to me, I wrote the checks out and filled out paperwork so my husband and my parents would have all the information they needed in case of emergency but didn’t actually send everything back to CI–I stored everything with my emergency paperwork. Thankfully the pregnancy went well, I’ve since had four healthy babies via caesarean, my last just two years ago.

I kept my emergency paperwork around and stayed interested in cryonics. I traveled to some futurist conventions and met other cryonicists, I followed cryonics news online and got to know more about the field. Fast forward a few more years to age 29 when I officially signed up as an Alcor member. Alcor is one of the two main cryonics storage organizations in the United States and in the world, it offers standby as part of membership and funds a lot of research in cryonics.

  Since that time when I was  a teenager and thinking cryonics would make sense to anyone, then a young adult realizing it isn’t a very large community, and now turning 40, I have realized that most people think cryonics is either a scam or just won’t work so what is the point trying. Over the years I’ve met all sorts of cryonicists: young, old, singles, families, religious, secular, conservative, liberal, wealthy, middle class, and below the poverty line. I’ve seen that no one makes money off of cryonics, the research in cryonics is funded by wealthy members.

I’ve also come to realize that there are many reasons that currently frozen patients might not stay frozen 500 to a 1000 years, and I personally think the chances of cryonics working are less that 1%. I don’t think that we can tell what future technology might be able to do, but if patients make it to the future, if not fully revived with their sentience intact, perhaps their bodies can be useful to science in some way–at least then we’re still helping to make a better future.

Personally, I donate to many causes and have been involved with social action through Unitarian Universalist churches over the years. I try to give back to society and feel there would be ways to give back in the future. So, it still makes sense for me to try cryonics even though I’m not certain it will work, just in case I’d get to see the future or just to have my body donated to science.   In the time I’ve been a cryonicist and active in the cryonics community I’ve made friends and have volunteered in various positions. I have helped set up area get-togethers for cryonicists, I’ve helped get trainings set up so members can learn what sorts of things to do in the event of an emergency and I have joined as a director with a non-profit cryonics support organization, The Society for Venturism that is there to help cryonicists with ways to make cryo-preservation go smoothly and help those that can not afford cryonics themselves get arrangements. I have helped run three successful cryonics charity campaigns since I’ve been a director, which I’m happy about.  

So, I don’t know if cryonics will work, but it is based on science that shows there is a chance–also I’m sure the future could learn many things from the cyro-preserved. I’ve had fun helping in the cryonics community and have enjoyed meeting people in it while I’m alive and whether or not it ever works, it has been fun to be part of the experiment.

-Shannon Vyff Alcor member, Cryonics Institute member, Director Society for Venturism, Director LongeCity, author of “21st Century Kids” -a cryonics adventure story for pre-teens, an author of the non-fiction book The Scientific Conquest of Death Links for further information:   Alcor FAQ: Cryonics Institute FAQ:   Alcor cryonics preservation, storage, standby, stabilization and transport are included for $200,000.00 whole body and $80,000.00 for neuro (head with brain) preservation:   Cryonics Institute price includes preservation and storage for whole body at $28,000.00 additional standby, stabilization and transport can be purchased and set up through Suspended Animation for $60,000.00 Oregon Cryonics, the least expensive US option has a $14,000.00 brain only cryo-preservation. They also offer a $900.00 option for brain only chemo-preservation.

One thought on “The Maybe Not End of Life Choice – Cryonics

  1. […] The Maybe Not End of Life Choice – Cryonics […]

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