For $200,000, This Lab Will Swap Your Body's Blood for Antifreeze

If this all sounds like a lot of risk for a slim reward, it might be. More is the first to admit that cryonics comes with no guarantees. “We don’t know for sure, there’s a lot of things that can go wrong,” he says. It’s possible that Alcor and companies like it are simply storing a lot of dead bodies in liquid nitrogen. But he also claims that cryonics is unlike a lot of other futuristic technology. “There’s no fundamental physical limit to be able to repair tissues,” he says, “it’s not like time travel.” The science of tissue regeneration is steadily advancing. But nobody really knows when they’ll be able to wake these patients up, or if they’ll be able to at all. When forced to take a guess at how long we’ll have to wait for medicine to catch up to save Alcor’s members, More put the number between 50 and 100 years. “But it’s really impossible to say. We probably don’t even know what repair technology would be used.”

As of today, 984 people are signed up with Alcor to be preserved when they die. People who sign up for Alcor’s services pay a yearly membership fee of about $770. When it comes time to actually preserve a person the cost ranges from $80,000 to preserve just the brain up to $200,000 to preserve the whole body. Some of that money, More says, goes into a patient care trust fund that keeps the facilities running and the bodies inside preserved for the long haul. And More is quick to point out that many patients get a life insurance policy that factors in the cost of their eventual freezing. “It’s not only something for the rich,” he says, “anybody who can afford an insurance policy can afford this.”

Most members, More says, are somewhat squeamish about the actual process of cryopreservation—but they see it as a means to an end. “We don’t want to be cryopreserved—we hate the idea in fact. The idea of sitting in a tank of liquid nitrogen not able to control our own destinies is not appealing. But it’s a lot more appealing than the alternative, to be digested by worms or incinerated—that doesn’t appeal to us at all.”

 


This post appears courtesy of Tomorrow's Lives, a column from BBC Future.

Presented by

Rose Eveleth is a writer, producer, and designer based in New York.

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