US Lab Is Freezing Bodies In Hope Of Bringing Them Back To Life

We’ve all seen the films where people freeze themselves in tanks and wake up many decades or centuries later.

Well, if this sort of fantasy rebirth is a dream for you, then there is a facility looking to make it a reality.

Alcor Life Extension Foundation was founded in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1972 and describes itself as the ‘world leader in cryonics, cryonics research, and cryonics technology’.

The lab freezes the bodies, or heads, of the clinically dead by slowing lowering their body temperature and storing them in giant vessels – or insulated metal dewars – of liquid nitrogen, which will serve as their new -196 C homes for many decades to come.

The 'ambulances to the future'. Credit: Alamy
The ‘ambulances to the future’. Credit: Alamy

The idea, or hope, is that with advancing technology, they may one day be able to be revived.

It may seem farfetched, but those who buy into it clearly feel it’s more likely than living beyond the grave or cremation, and according to The Mirror, there are already 200 frozen heads and bodies being stored there.

That said, it’s hardly as affordable as a burial.

Indeed, you’d probably have to be confident enough to leave your family with barely any inheritance, as a full-body cryonic preservation will set you back around $220,000, while a ‘neuro preservation’, aka just the head, will cost you about $80,000.

One of the many insulated metal dewars that holds the bodies. Credit: Alcor Life Extension Foundation
One of the many insulated metal dewars that holds the bodies. Credit: Alcor Life Extension Foundation

Alcor was founded by Linda and Fred Chamberlain with the noble goal of saving lives.

Speaking to CNET in 2020, Linda said: “Our goals were to start an organization that could save people’s lives and give them an opportunity to be restored to health and function.

“If we’d known how hard it was going to be, we might not have tried to do it. But… once you get started, something about saving lives, you can’t give up.

“Legal death only really means that your heart and your lungs have stopped functioning without intervention. It doesn’t mean your cells are dead, it doesn’t mean even your organs are dead.

“Our best estimates are that within 50 to 100 years, we will have the medical technologies needed to restore our patients to health and function. I’m an optimist.”

Well, if she’s right, it certainly doesn’t look good for the planet and the growing problem of human overpopulation.

A cryopreserver filling a container to hold a neuropatient's brain with liquid nitrogen. Credit: Getty
A cryopreserver filling a container to hold a neuropatient’s brain with liquid nitrogen. Credit: Getty

But as Linda said, she is an optimist, and there are many who think it will never work and that it’s a waste of money.

There are also concerns that the lengthy freezing process could do irreversible physical damage, while memories could also be wiped.

Succinctly summarising what it’s all about, the Alcor website reads: “Cryonics is currently the best-known method for pausing the dying process in a way that allows for potentially restoring good health with medical technology in the future.

“Cryonics is the ambulance to the future.”

Only time will tell if any of the patients in those ambulances make it out alive.

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