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See Inside Facility That Stores Frozen People in Cryostat Chambers

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Throughout history, people have tried to find ways to cheat death, but lately, it’s a topic that seems to be on the minds of many of Silicon Valley’s super-rich.

Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley billionaires are interested in extending life.


Wikipedia


Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel are some of the tech elite who have invested millions of dollars in trying to figure out how to extend their lives.

Sam Altman Jeff Bezos

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos back companies focused on life extension.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images/REUTERS/Joshua Roberts


Cryonics is a process that many people believe could help extend human life. It involves deep-freezing human remains after a person dies in the hopes that one day that person could be revived in the future.

Science fiction Cryogenics Set Appearing in a 1975 episode of ABC's TV series "The Wide World of Mystery"

Science fiction cryogenics set appearing in a 1975 episode of ABC’s TV series “The Wide World of Mystery”

American Broadcasting Companies via Getty Images


No one has ever been resuscitated from cryonic suspension, and there is currently no technology to revive someone who is kept in a frozen chamber.

Interior of Cryonics Institute's facility in Michigan.

Interior of Cryonics Institute’s facility in Michigan.

Cryonics Institute


Many people think cryonic preservation involves simply freezing a person’s body, but the process is more complicated than that.

dry ice

Dry ice is used to store the bodies as they are transported to the facility.

Leon Neal/Getty Images


According to Dennis Kowalski, the president of the Cryonics Institute, the deep-freezing process is done in a couple of steps.

Dennis Kowalski of the Cryonics Institute

Dennis Kowalski has signed up to be preserved in a chamber that reaches freezing temperatures after death.

Cryonics Institute


Preservation begins after a person is declared legally dead. According to Kowalski, the sooner the process begins, the better the chance of preserving the body.

A specialized ambulance for transporting bodies undergoing cryopreservation was shown at a conference in Madrid in November 2022.

A specialized ambulance for transporting bodies undergoing cryopreservation was shown at a conference in Madrid in November 2022.

Ricardo Rubio/Europa Press via Getty Images


First, the body is given blood thinners to prevent clotting and an antacid for stomach acids. At Cryonics Institute, a cryonics specialist, whom they call a “funeral director,” performs most of the procedures.

Cryonics Institute standby kit

Cryonics Institute standby kit.

Cryonics Institute


Then, the goal is to remove as much heat from the body as possible in order to preserve it. Kowalski said the specialist will attach an automatic CPR device to the body to keep blood flowing, and then it is placed in an ice bath to cool down.

Automatic CPR machine is attached to a body while on standby.

An automatic CPR machine is attached to a body while on standby.

Cryonics Institute


In the early days of cryonics, bodies were placed into a “straight freeze,” meaning they were simply frozen after death. However, that may cause internal damage due to ice crystal formation.

Robert Ettinger is known to be the "father of cryonics." The Cryonic Institute's first patient was his mother, Rhea Ettinger, in 1977.

Robert Ettinger is known to be the “father of cryonics.” The Cryonic Institute’s first patient was his mother, Rhea Ettinger, in 1977.

Cryonics Institute


Today, when a body arrives at a cryonics facility, it is removed from the ice bath to undergo a process called “vitrification,” meaning bodies are pumped full of an “anti-freeze solution” that was inspired by the way some animals hibernate in extremely cold temperatures, according to Kowalski.

A procedure is performed to gain access to a patient's vascular system. The process prevents ice crystals from forming.

A procedure is performed to gain access to a patient’s vascular system. The process prevents ice crystals from forming.

Cryonics Institute


The next step is to place the body into a large box that slowly cools it from the ice-water temperature down to the temperature of liquid nitrogen, which is -196°C (or -320°F.) Preserving the body at such a cold temperature “locks everything in a steady state,” according to Kowalski.

Cryonics Institute cooldown Unit box

Cryonics Institute cool-down box

Cryonics Institute


Finally, after the process is complete, the freezing-cold body is stored in a chamber that Kowalski compared to a “giant thermos bottle.”

Cryonics Institute cryostat chambers

Cryonics Institute cryostat chambers

Cryonics Institute


The bodies are stored upside down, and additional liquid nitrogen is added to the chambers periodically to ensure they are continuously full.

Cryonics Institute model

Cryonics Institute model. The bodies are stored upside down.

Cryonics Institute


Kowalski said that people who sign up for cryonics tend to be optimistic about the future of scientific innovation. Many are lovers of science fiction.

Chambers where bodies are stored at Cryonics Institute.

Chambers where bodies are stored at Cryonics Institute.

Cryonics Institute


Cryonics Institute charges a $28,000 members fee for the process and storage of bodies after members die, and the fee can be arranged through a life insurance policy.

7,000-square foot Cryonics Institute building in Michigan with more than 200 patients.

7,000-square foot Cryonics Institute building in Michigan with more than 200 patients. There are currently more than 2,000 patients signed up.

Cryonics Institute


Alcor Life Extension Foundation, another US-based cryonics company, charges $200,000 for full-body storage, and $80,000 for storage of a person’s brain alone, according to Reuters.

Alcor co-founder Linda Chamberlain talks about cryonics to AZ Central.

Alcor co-founder Linda Chamberlain talks about cryonics to AZ Central.

The Republic, azcentral.com


Dr. Max More, the former CEO of Alcor, once said he plans only to store his brain, calling his body “replaceable.

Alcor president Max More.

Alcor’s CEO until 2020.

Jean-Marie HOSATTE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images


Source: The Daily Mail

Indeed, the process of reviving a person who has been frozen would likely also need to include reversing some of the aging process, and undoing any damage or illness in a person’s body, Kowalski concedes.

old couple sad

Some aspects of the aging process would likely need to be reversed if bodies are ever revived.

Getty


Scientists currently don’t know how to undo aging, reverse damage done by many diseases including Alzheimer’s and cancer, and most importantly: if it will be possible to one day revive a person’s body that has been preserved in a chamber.

Preservation chambers at Cryonics Institute

Preservation chambers at Cryonics Institute.

Cryonics Institute


Kowalski said that Cryonics Institute conservatively invests money in index funds to ensure the company can maintain its facilities for as long it takes for science and technology to catch up to cryonics’ ambitions.

stock market investing

Cryonics Institute said they ensure longevity through conservative investments.

John W Banagan / Investing


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