On Tuesday, January 17 the Cryonics Institute received its 72nd patient, perfused her with vitrification mixture and began cooldown to liquid nitrogen temperature. This was a very challenging case, to put it mildly. In the interest of privacy for those concerned only first names are given and the names that are used are not the real names.
The patient is the 84-year-old mother of two sons. Josh was eager to have his mother cryopreserved. Timothy, the other son, was doubtful that cryonics is of value and did not have conviction that these were his mother's wishes, but he agreed to acquiesce. The two brothers both expressed deep caring for each other and I found it touching to experience. Timothy said he acquiesced mostly because he could recognize how much cryonics means to Josh. This decision was made with a great deal of emotional difficulty, but other families have been torn apart by animosity under similar circumstances.
The 71st patient of the Cryonics Institute was John Connole who has been a Member of CI since 1991. He deanimated about noon on December 22, 2005 in Nevada. John was at one time our Contracts Officer (the person who verifies that Member contracts are completed properly -- a position now held by Connie Ettinger). John worked in the Aerospace Industry before he retired. He was 84 years old at the time of his deanimation. His condition has been critical for the last few months. The previous week we had been told he would last 5-10 days and his wife phone two days ago to say that he would probably not last more than a day. He was given heparin, some CPS (CardioPulmonary Support -- "Resuscitation" was not an objective) and ice was packed around his head immediately after a speedy pronouncement of death. We began our work on him at our funeral director's at 9am on the morning of December 23rd.
This is less a case report than a few notes of unique or new features concerning the case. Otherwise there was little difference in the protocol than that seen for CI's 69th patient or CI's 72nd patient. The 69th patient was the first patient in which we attempted cannulation of both the carotids and vertebrals, and in that case our funeral director cut the clavicle. In this case he found that he did not need to cut the clavicle, so we have dispensed with that additional operation.
The 70th patient of the Cryonics Institute was a 21-year-old man who died in an automobile accident. He was killed by a drunken driver. This is proof of the principle that your life is in the hands of any fool coming in the opposite direction who lacks the ability to stay on his or her side of the center-line.
In addition to suffering head injuries in the accident, the patient was autopsied. We were contacted after the autopsy, so we had no chance to intervene. Normally, we would not accept such a patient, but we were told it was a "light autopsy", that the patient was in refrigeration and there seemed to be no opposition in the family. Also we were believing that holding a person on dry ice post-mortem was not an option because of new airline requirements (this belief is now being re-evaluated). We make no guarantee of accepting such patients in the future.
Reportedly the patient had spoken of wanting to be cryopreserved, without anticipating that he would be deanimating so young. I urged that the patient be shipped as quickly as possible, but although the mother (who signed the forms) was apparently in agreement with this, there were evidently others in the family who insisted that a church service be held with the remains in a casket. A closed-casket funeral service was held, attended by hundreds of people, with the casket containing ice. I was assured that this was the compromise they had agreed upon and I didn't put up too much of a fight. I did not attempt to get involved in the family negotiations other than my urging, which I did not vigorously pursue. These matters can be sensitive.