Reflection: Going into Cryogenic Sleep

Not long ago there was a new article via my RSS Feed about a young sleep who was dying from a terminal form of brain cancer, to be exact: Glioblastoma multiforme. After exhausting all options including (but not limited to) trial and experimental treatments however nothing slowed her cancer and she was given months to live.

According to the Huffington Post, originally Kim Suozzi called to reddit for donations for to “do fun things before she died” and later decided that the one thing that would give her peace was to be preserved via cryogenics.

In fact, according to her blog, this turned out to be her final wish.

I want to be cryopreserved upon my death. Many of you know that I’m agnostic; I don’t have any clue what happens when you die, but have no reason to think that my consciousness will continue on after death. The only thing that I can think to make me feel a little more at ease with my death is to secure cryopreservation plans on the off-chance that they figure out how to revive people in the future. The way I see it, it’s a better bet than decomposing or getting cremated.

As much as it pains me to say it (being raised Roman Catholic) I have to agree with her to some extent. Do we really know what happens after we all passed from this Earth? Not really… and to quote the movie “Contact” with Jodie Foster:

Ellie Arroway: So what’s more likely? That an all-powerful, mysterious God created the Universe, and decided not to give any proof of his existence? Or, that He simply doesn’t exist at all, and that we created Him, so that we wouldn’t have to feel so small and alone?

Oh the joys of the scientific mindset… the bane of my existance, but how does the above quote relate to death? That sometimes it is easier to believe that our consciousness lives on as opposed to suddenly stop existing altogether. We as humans would prefer to believe that a part of of lives on or that there is that sense of immortality as opposing to say that death is the equivalent to no longer existing…

But I am getting ahead of myself.

Kim Suozzi called upon Reddit to raise the funds for her “dying wish” and came up with a little over $2000… a start, but that not the amount necessary to be cryopreserved. Which is where The Society for Venturism stepped in. Within a week it was reported that they have raised the necessary funds to help Kim Suozzi with her last wish and…

Kim Suozzi reportedly deanimated in a hospice in Scottsdale, AZ, and went into cryosuspension at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation on January 17, 2013, funded mainly by the donations many people have made to the Society for Venturism.

Which brings me back to a thread of thought that jumped in before I was truly ready to touch upon it… is this an alternative to death? To go into cryogenic sleep as a last hope in the faint possibility that in the coming years, decades, centuries… or more the science and technology would have a cure for her cancer?

Is that even possible? It’s hard to say. It is a lot to pay for a pipe chance and a dream… and yet. Well, Benjamin Franklin reportedly lamented to a friend back in 1773 that

I wish it were possible… to invent a method of embalming drowned persons, in such a manner that they might be recalled to life at any period, however distant; for having a very ardent desire to see and observe the state of America a hundred years hence, I should prefer to an ordinary death, being immersed with a few friends in a cask of Madeira, until that time, then to be recalled to life by the solar warmth of my dear country! But… in all probability, we live in a century too little advanced, and too near the infancy of science, to see such an art brought in our time to its perfection…

It is very easy to want to find a method, a way, an out from having to die so that one could live longer… later… or possibly become a kind of immortal. But is it really practical?

In cases like Kim Suozzi, who was studying neuroscience, it makes sense… this is brilliant mind whose life was unfortunately being forced to be cut short. She wanted to live the last of her days out to do things she never got a chance to do and then decided that after exhausting all possibilities she wanted to pursue a path that may not help her right now… but could send her into a future time that could help her?

And then we are reminded of Philip Fry’s situation in the pilot episode of Futurama:

Interesting thought… In any case, there is another fundraiser at the Society for Venturism webpage for Aaron Winborn who is wanting to be cryopreserved as well in the off-chance that the future may hold the cure to his dilemma…

Then again after the response that he got from his primary care physician… I can’t say that I blame him for wanting to try.

I could continue on with this thought process, but the blog post would become far longer than more people would be willing to read… and the fact that after this I would diving into more spiritual thoughts, context, questions, etc… maybe that is best left for a later blog post.

In the mean time… what would you do if you realized (or was told) that you are going to die tomorrow, and you had all the money in the world. Would you accept it as fate or would you fight it in any way that you can? Granted it is easier to say think about it now when you are healthy and strong… but I am willing to bet that when you are on your deathbed you would be saying something entirely different…

However, I am not you… so what do I know?

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