A company in Arizona called Alcor claims to be the “world leader in cryonics, cryonics research, and cryonics technology”.
Cryonics is the science of using ultra-cold temperature to preserve human life with the intent of restoring good health when technology becomes available to do so.
They have almost 1000 customers signed up for the service, and currently have around 90 people preserved at their facility. At around $200,000 it’s not completely out of reach either.
Subjects are stored in tanks called ‘Bigfoot Dewars’. Each tank can hold four whole body patients, or 10 ‘neuropatients’ (The entire head and brain of the patient).
So what’s the process to go from reading this story to freezing in one of those tanks? Read on…
To start with, you need to be legally dead. Because the process is not reversible, cryopreserving a living person is equal to killing them in the eyes of the law. Once your heart stops, and an independent authority declares you dead, cryopreservation procedures can begin.
As shown above, you are taken to Alcor’s operating room in Scottsdale, Arizona. The equipment used to get you there can be viewed in detail here.
Up to a dozen surgeons, technicians, and support staff will perform the procedure as surgeons gain access to major blood vessels. The patient is around 60 deg F or lower at this stage. This low temperature allows blood circulation to stop for a short time without damaging the brain.
Once access to the blood vessels is achieved, the patient is connected to a machine that replaces blood with a chemical solution to prevent ice formation - this is the key to freezing a body in a state that won’t harm the tissue.
The patient is monitored during the four hour procedure, and a bank of heart-lung machines circulate the cryoprotectant solution, gradually increasing the concentration.
The patient is now transferred from the operating room to the cooldown facility, where cooling to -130°C takes place under computer control. The result of this process is “vitrification” (solidification without freezing).
Once complete, the container is placed in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -196 deg C, and is now stored until science is able to revive the patient!