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The Cryonics Institute’s 83nd Patient: By Ben Best

by System Administrator / Sunday, 5 August 2007 /

The 83rd patient of the Cryonics Institute is a 91-year-old woman. (The death certificate says 89, but according to her son that is incorrect.) She had been extremely sick for the previous five months, and on four occasions it appeared she was going to die.

The patient had a long history of medical problems, beginning with two minor heart attacks in the 1970s and a kidney that had atrophied and collected infections, leading to pyelonephritis. She had been on high blood pressure medications for nearly 30 years. She had breast cancer around 1990, but was essentially cured by simple mastectomy and tomoxifen. She had a pacemaker for over 15 years. She had received three carotid endarterectomies, one of which was a repeat to put in a stent. The patient had smoked for 63 years, which doubtlessly led to her chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She had been on oxygen for 2 months in 2002.

The very serious illnesses began in February 2007 when the patient was having wheezing attacks, became visibly blue (cyanotic) and was sent to the hospital. Three weeks later she suffered congestive heart failure. She lost the ability to walk and developed weeping edema. She suffered numerous infections in the following months, including four urinary tract infections, methacillin-resistant Staph aureus and probably some pyelonephritis. The COPD, congestive heart failure and infections all led to her deanimation, although a more precise identification was not made.

Her cryopreservation was arranged by one son (with permission of his brother). The son had spoken to Robert Ettinger ten years previously at the time the son's father was ill (and died too quickly). The son did not have the money up front to pay for the cryopreservation, so after his mother deanimated he had her stored on dry ice until he could raise the funds. She remained in the hospital cooler with the funeral director packing dry ice. The son did make his mother a Member before she deanimated, however, and was thereby able to have her preserved for $28,000 (plus funeral director expenses). The son later remarked that once they had decided on cryonics, the technical details were far less daunting than they had expected. The son commented that arranging the funding had been the most complicated part.

No perfusion was possible because dry ice breaks blood vessels by freezing. Also, the tissue is too hard at dry ice temperature.

The patient deanimated on July 12 and was received by the Cryonics Institute at 2:15 p.m. on August 2.

Ample amounts of dry ice were packed into the Ziegler shipping box by the funeral director involved, and the box was well insulated. Nonetheless, the patient was below dry ice temperature when she was placed in the CI computer-controlled cooling box. Placing probes in a dry ice patient is not easy. The probe for brain core would not go very deeply into the nose or mouth. It was inserted between an inch and an inch-and-a-half into the nose. The probe for body temperature was placed under the back.

The patient was cooled to liquid nitrogen temperature in about 24 hours. There is little necessity for longer cooling in a straight freeze because a crackable glass is not formed. Straight-freezing involves ice formation which is the equivalent of countless tiny cracks, which does much to relieve strain. After reaching liquid nitrogen temperature the patient was placed into a cryostat on Friday, August 3rd, 2007.