Have you ever dreamed of seeing the distant future? Or maybe just fast-forwarding to when hoverboards finally exist? In the world of cryonics, many scientists believe freezing ourselves is the way forward. But could it actually work?
Imagine waking up in a futuristic room, feeling completely disoriented, like you’ve just woken up from the longest nap ever. You’re surrounded by a smiling group of doctors, who welcome you to your new life in the year 2200.
The sinking realization that all your friends, family, and loved ones are gone forever sets in. Unless, of course, they chose to be cryopreserved like you. How does cryopreservation work?
How long could your body last? Is there a risk of mental decline?
Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that cryopreservation will actually work. Experts in the field openly admit that we cannot defrost someone, and bring them back to life, with our current technology. But many believe that, in the distant future, such technologies will exist.
In fact, over 200 believers have already signed up to be cryogenically preserved at the Alcor facility in Arizona, and there are another 74 people frozen in Russia’s KrioRus facility. The idea of preserving ourselves for life in the future has captivated our imaginations, but how could it work?
So far, we’ve successfully frozen living embryos for as long as 24 years. In fact, it’s become a common practice for couples struggling with fertility issues.
And scientists at Japan’s National Institute of Polar Research were able to revive tardigrades that were frozen for nearly a decade under the Antarctic ice. Embryos and microorganisms seem to stand the test of time, but could a human body? Before you become a human Popsicle, listen closely if you want to make it out alive.
STEP ONE: SAVE YOUR MONEY
Cryopreservation is a very expensive process that requires special equipment and knowledgeable staff. On average, the procedure can range between $80,000 to $200,000 USD, depending on whether you freeze just your head or your whole body.
And even if you’re lucky enough to afford it, you will have to be deceased before the procedure can begin. Many patients suffering from terminal illnesses will notify a cryonics company when they believe their time is up. This is so they can have the cryonics team ready in the hospital room. Once death has been declared, time is of the essence for successful cryopreservation.
STEP TWO: ALERT YOUR LOVED ONES
Before you can go through with the process, be sure to make your wishes known to your family or whoever holds a power of attorney over your estate. Legally, they’ll be responsible for contacting the cryonics company at the time of your death.
This is a huge decision. Be sure to speak to your loved ones and a therapist about it before you go through with it.
STEP THREE: PLUNGE INTO ICE
As soon as you’ve been reported as deceased,
STEP FOUR: INJECT AN ANTICOAGULANT INTO YOUR BLOODSTREAM
A cryonics team will inject your body with an anticoagulant to prevent your blood from clotting. Then they perform chest compressions for at least five minutes, to pump the anticoagulant throughout your body to all of your blood vessels.
STEP FIVE: DRAIN YOUR BODILY FLUIDS
Then your body will be transported to the cryonics facility. A funeral director or team member will introduce a thin tube into your left and right carotid arteries, known medically as the process of cannulation, to drain the blood and water from your body.
At the same time, a cryoprotectant agent will be inserted to stop ice crystals from forming inside you. This will help to maintain the structural integrity of your body.
Once cannulation is complete, the body will be sutured shut. Over about a week, your corpse will be cooled to -196 °C (-320 °F) and moved into a special insulation pouch filled with nitrogen to keep you frozen. Identification tags will also be attached, so people in the future know who you are. You will then be moved to a long-term storage unit known as a cryostat.
STEP SIX: WAIT A LONG TIME
Despite their best efforts, scientists aren’t exactly sure how long it will take before a body can be revived. It could be anywhere from a 100 years to much, much longer. Hopefully, if they do revive you, medical science and technology will have progressed enough to bring you back to full health.
You would likely need some time to recuperate. First, your body would be thawed and gradually warmed. Then the cryonics team would drain the cryoprotective agent, and replace it with blood. They may resuscitate you with a futuristic defibrillator to shock your heart back to life. Once you’re fully revived, you would likely be tested for any mental or physical issues.
And hopefully, any serious health problems that brought you into the future in the first place would be successfully treated.
As promising as cryopreservation sounds, we might not know if it actually works for a hundred years or more. That’s a looonnnnng time to be asleep. Speaking of which, could we actually survive without any sleep whatsoever?
- “Alcor: Membership Statistics”. 2020. alcor.org.
- “About Us | Kriorus“. 2020. kriorus.ru.
- “Here’s How Far Cryonic Preservation Has Come in the 50 Years Since ‘Bedford Day'”. 2017. NBC News.
- “Alcor: FAQ – Basic”. 2020. alcor.org.
- “Guide To Cryonics Procedures | Cryonics Institute”. 2020. cryonics.org.
- “Professor Farnsworth”. 2020. en.wikipedia.org.