Say that cryonics does work, does it wipe out memories in the process??

Clinton Township, Michigan: The president of a cryonic facility where a 14-year-old British girl was taken to be frozen has admitted patients may be left with no memories even if they are successfully woken up.

Dennis Kowalski, of the Cryonics Institute in Michigan, said he did not believe memories would necessarily survive after the brain had been frozen for decades.

Media gather outside the High Court in London. Mr Justice Peter Jackson has granted the final wishes of a 14-year-old girl to be cryogenically preserved image

Media gather outside the High Court in London. Mr Justice Peter Jackson has granted the final wishes of a 14-year-old girl to be cryogenically preserved. 

He said patients could awake as “clones” of themselves, with no sense of their former lives. And he added that he had only a “50-50” belief that people enclosed in the freezing chambers would ever be revived.

Last week it emerged that a teenage cancer patient in Britain had her wish to be frozen after her death granted by a judge following a bitter legal dispute that divided her parents.

A team of British volunteers prepared her body, packed it in dry ice and transported it to the Cryonics Institute in Michigan, one of just three such facilities in the world. The others are Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona, and KrioRus, on the outskirts of Moscow.

Mr Kowalski said the cryonic process would damage the brain, and could wipe out memories completely.

He said: “The question is whether we are saving the person’s identity or their mind. Everything in between is a degree. The analogy would be a stroke.

“Most people who have strokes are happy to be alive. Some people have big strokes, some have small strokes. You won’t have 100 per cent of your mind.

The Cryonics Institute in Michigan. Photo image

The Cryonics Institute in Michigan. Photo:

“You could be just like you but without your memory, without the same mind. Like a clone of you.”

The parents of the girl – identified only as JS – had disagreed over whether her wish to be frozen should be followed, so she asked a High Court judge to intervene.

In a letter to the court, she said: “I don’t want to die but I know I am going to … I want to live longer … I want to have this chance.”

The girl asked Mr Justice Peter Jackson to rule that her mother, who supported her desire to be cryonically preserved, should be the only person allowed to make decisions about the disposal of her body. Her wish was granted.

Without commenting on the specifics of the case, Mr Kowalski said: “How can you deny a dying girl’s last wish and take away her last hope?”

But he added that most of the institute’s patients have made their wishes known far in advance.

The scientific community is divided over whether cryonics, which was pioneered by Dr Robert Ettinger, the institute’s founder and – as of 2011 – one of its patients, will actually work.

After the decision emerged, experts said cryonic companies were irresponsible for implying there is a realistic hope that a dead human could be unfrozen, brought back to life and cured of a fatal disease in the future.They said the High Court had made “no assessment of the plausibility of the science” and warned the ruling could encourage vulnerable people to pursue unrealistic hopes.

Clive Coen, Professor of Neuroscience at King’s College London, said: “Irreversible damage is caused during the process of taking the mammalian brain into sub-zero temperatures. The wishful thinking engendered by cryogenics companies is irresponsible.”

Before JS arrived, at least 15 Britons were suspended in the institute’s fibreglass tanks, said Andy Zawacki, the chief operating officer.

The father of the cryonics movement, Robert Ettinger image

The father of the cryonics movement, Robert Ettinger.

The institute holds 145 humans and 125 pets. Members can contribute $120 annually to reserve their spot, and pay $28,000 to be frozen, most of which can be covered through a life insurance policy. Those fees include the costs of reanimation.

The institute is a non-profit, and only two staff members are paid.

Telegraph, London

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