AN entrepreneur who runs the world’s biggest cryogenics lab in the world has called for more people to sign up in a bid to cheat death.
Dennis Kowalski, president of Cryonics Institute, has a warehouse full of bodies of people hoping to come back to life – including a 14-year-old British girl.
The controversial process of being cryo-preserved has been dubbed a “lottery ticket to immortality” by some hopeful people.
But the goal of cryo is still a long shot – and coming back to life is still not a guarantee.
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More than 500 people are floating inside giant thermos bottles filled with liquid nitrogen known as a Dewar.
Inside the chilling chambers, the body is wrapped in several layers of insulating material, and attached to a stretcher with the head angled downwards to keep the brain as cold and as stable as possible.
The corpses lay for years, decades and potentially even centuries as scientists and doctors hunt for the cure to diseases – and ultimately cheat death.
At Cryonics Institute in Clinton Township, Michigan, it costs around £22,000 to be preserved in a -195C liquid nitrogen tank for decades to come.
Dennis – who has signed up himself when the time comes – told The Sun: “You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
“You get can buried or cremated and we know what happens to the though those people, they won’t ever be repaired, rejuvenated, or reversed, back into a healthy age.
“The grave is your only real alternative and that’s complete oblivion. So we want to defeat man’s greatest enemy – death itself.”
Founded in 1976, Dennis’ life goal at Cryonics Institute is to “try to alleviate suffering and pain and to help restore life whenever possible”.
“I would give everything I had to bring back family friends and loved ones, even if the chance is small. So I think what I’m doing is fighting the good fight,” he said.
We want to defeat man’s greatest enemy – death itself
“I think it’s it’s born out of love, compassion, and a desire to to do good. and if it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.
“I think it’s at least worth an attempt to see if it’s possible to bring these people back someday and I would hope scientists can put us out of business.”
Dennis understands people’s criticism of cryonics – but doesn’t agree with those who blast it as money and time.and a waste of
He encourages people to take the risk.
“If you’re already dead there’s not much harm in trying – and you might as well take a risk,” he said.
“Let’s say you have a heart attack right now, well 100-years-ago you would have been dead so by using that logic what’s the point of pounding on your chest or using a little electricity to try to shock your heart back to life?
“Yet today we routinely use cardiac defibrillation and CPR to bring back people who have died so we’ve moved the goalpost. We’ve changed the the definition of what dead means.
“So now we’re not really bringing back the dead. You’re just restarting their heart and I would argue that bringing back people who were in liquid nitrogen for a hundred years is a similar thing.”
What is cryonics?
CRYONICS is the process of cooling bodies that cannot be kept alive medically to sub-zero temperatures in the hope they can be brought back to life in the future.
It is based on a theory that the brain can retain memory and personality while frozen and that one day scientists will able to successfully defrost and heal the bodies.
There is currently no way to resuscitate bodies that have been cryogenically frozen although some believe the technology will be developed in the future.
How does it work?
- Once a person wishing to be cryogenically frozen has died, a preservation company is informed
- The response team will then attempt to keep the person’s blood pumping in their body, injecting the body with chemicals and packing them in ice
- At the cryonics facility, the body’s blood is removed with it replaced with organ preservation solution
- The body’s blood vessels are then injected with a solution in an attempt to stop ice crystals forming in the body
- The body is then cooled to -130C
- The body is finally placed into a container of liquid nitrogen and kept at -196C
When asked what the point of cryo is Dennis had a very simple answer saying that it can simply save lives and keep families together.
There are 12 board of directors on the Cryonics Institute team that oversee the whole company and develop the systems in place.
When they receive a corpse at their huge warehouse they put the body in icy water to keep it cold and give the person blood thinners to stop their blood from thickening.
The body is then injected with a specially designed antifreeze that protects your cells from expanding and crystallising causing irreversible damage.
Then you go into the deep freeze chambers drowned in liquid nitrogen and wait for science to advance to such a point that you can safely be brought back to life.
The cost of this process varies from company to company with some offering it for as low as just £19,500 in the US whereas over in Germany the entire cryo-process will set you back £170,000.
If you’re already dead there’s not much harm in trying – and you might as well take a risk
As it is such an elaborate method of immortality and survival, the process is made up of a number of factors that influence the price.
Some people pay for a team of stand-by team of technicians who can ensure your body is perfectly kept from the moment you die to the point of being placed inside the Dewar.
Another fluctuation of the cost comes from transporting your corpse from the spot you die to the company’s warehouse.
“People say, do you look forward to chronics? And I say, no, that means that I’m dead, at least temporarily,” Dennis said.
“It’s the second worst thing that could possibly happen to me – the worst being dead and not frozen.”
As of April last year, the team at Cryonics Institute currently have 240 people in suspension – meaning they are in the chambers waiting to be revived.
Another 2,000 other people have signed up to the service awaiting the fateful day that they die.
How many people want to be frozen in time?
ACROSS the planet there are thought to be around 500 people in cryo-sleep waiting for the moment their body can be bought back to life.
Of these 300 are stored in the US and 50 people in Russia, with Europe also having 100 bodies with the final few coming from across the world.
Arizona is currently the place with the most pets being stored in cryo chambers with over 30 owners keeping their pooches and cats preserved for life.
But around the globe the number of people and pets choosing to go down the route of cryo-preservation is steadily increasing.
Since the turn of the 21st century, thousands of hopefuls have put their names down to be stored in cryo-sleep.
The waiting list is estimated to now have over 4,000 believers on it full of folks looking to extend their lives even after their death.
Among those 4,000 sign ups include some pretty famous and rich faces.
Cryo companies have reportedly seen celebrities that include Elon Musk, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Larry King and Peter Thiel all agree to trust the process and be cryo-preserved when they die.
Walt Disney was also at the heart of cryo related rumours for decades and legendary TV personality Simon Cowell has flip-flopped with the idea since first hearing about it back in 2009.
Alongside these the warehouse morgue is also expecting to welcome in 239 pets and 341 pieces of DNA or tissue that loved ones want to keep.
Despite a large group of believers in the science, Dennis isn’t satisfied with only 2,200 people signing up.
He said: “I think our numbers are incredibly and woefully low as to what they should be.
The cryogenic market is reportedly worth around £10billion.
And the figure is expected to continue to rise as science evolves and pushes more boundaries.
Science’s view on cryo-preservation
Many leading neuroscientists have slammed the use of cryonics for selling impressionable people a false hope at a second chance at life.
Experts say the idea of freezing a body until it can be brought back to life in the future is simply impossible at the moment – and therefore it shouldn’t be advertised as a genuine possibility.
Clive Coen, a professor of neuroscience at King’s College London, called for a ban on the marketing of cryonics a few years ago.
He labelled the idea of preserving a whole body “ridiculous” and said even the idea of cryo-storing a brain was “only slightly less ridiculous”.
Cosmologist and astrophysicist Professor Martin Rees also said cryonic enthusiasts were “ridiculous and not to be taken seriously”.
“In my view it is most unlikely that this is feasible and even if it is, it should be discouraged,” he said.
“From an ethical point of view if people are going to be frozen and revived, even if they could survive they would be imposing a great obligation on future generations, and any revived person would be a nuisance or a misfit.”
Cryobiologist Ramon Risco has even claimed that scientists risked damaging their careers and being excluded from groups if they worked on cryonics – a move Ramon made himself.
There was also huge controversy around the world of cryo after the family of a dead 14-year-old girl who was frozen accused cryogenic companies of “brainwashing” their daughter into agreeing to take part in the process.
The teenager died of a rare form of cancer, but was caught up in a legal dispute in the months before her death as she requested to be taken to Dennis’ Cryonics Institute in Michigan.
The father said: “It’s a nightmare. Even if the treatment is successful and she’s brought back in, 200 years, she may not find any relative and will be alone in the US.”
But Justice Peter Jackson was labelled a “hero” by the teenager after he agreed to her dying wish so that one day she could “be cured and woken up”.