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Cryonics Facts & Myths: Can You Cryogenically Freeze Your Body?

Do cryonics organizations freeze your body?

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If you have come across cryonics (aka biostasis) recently, you may be thinking that it’s about bodies frozen cryogenically. In reality, cryopreservation, although it uses very low temperatures, is quite different from freezing. The creation of frozen ice crystals in the cells is actually one of cryonicists' worst nightmares! Find out here what cryopreservation is, how it works, and whether it might be what you are looking for.

What Is Cryonics?

Cryonics is the practice of preserving bodies after legal death through the use of cryogenic (very low) temperatures. The technique currently used to achieve this is called human cryopreservation. The body is at rest: no cellular activity and degeneration will alter it for a virtually unlimited period of time.

The purpose of cryonics is to offer a life-saving technology. Many people are dying nowadays of diseases that will one day be curable. Think of the recent pandemic for example. How many people might have survived if they had been infected with COVID-19 after being vaccinated rather than before? 

Now, imagine a longer period of time. If in 100 years from now they found a cure for a certain type of cancer, people who are sick today with that cancer may not make it. They would if technology existed that could get them to that time in the future.

How Does Human Cryopreservation work?

As the market demand is still rather low, there aren’t many cryonics organizations in the world currently involved in this practice. We at Tomorrow Bio offer human cryopreservation in Europe (we are the first to operate in this area!).

But how does this work? In most cases, people pass away in hospitals after worsening of previous conditions. In best case scenarios, our standby team will be sent to the location and be ready before the declaration of legal death. In case of sudden death, we have prepared emergency notification methods to make sure that our team is notified quickly. The procedure then starts as soon as possible after death. The body temperature is lowered (reducing metabolism) and the blood in the body is perfused with cryoprotective agents. Once all the blood is replaced and the temperature is around -125 degrees, the body passes into the so-called glass transition temperature. 

Our patients are now vitrified and can be stored indefinitely. If you want to know more about the procedure, read here. Or, see why even though the temperature is definitely low, cryonics doesn’t freeze their patient.

Differences Between Freezing and Vitrifying

For cryonics organizations, it’s important that people understand that it’s not about freezing. This misconception is often used as an argument against cryonics. According to some, there’s no way a frozen body could ever be revived. This is because, when a body reaches sub-zero temperatures, the liquids within the tissues freeze. They turn into ice crystals that have a mass 9% greater than the solid state and sharp edges. Cells, in contact with these crystals, would be damaged. While most body tissues could be reconstructed by complex future technologies, damage to the brain might ruin it beyond repair. Luckily, this isn’t the technique we use.

Perfusing the body with cryoprotectant agents ensures that it doesn't freeze. Liquids are replaced with solutions that react at low temperatures by becoming “glassy”. As they don't expand, they don't damage the surrounding tissue. This technique is called vitrification and was a great discovery in the field of cryonics. 

Studies show that this procedure succeeds in preserving the part of the brain that contains memories. If your personality and your true self are enclosed in your brain (as medical science claims), you should be able to get to the future in one piece.

Graph showing how cells react to freezing versus cryonics vitrification
Cells, pinched between ice crystals, suffer significantly less damage when vitrified.

The Challenges of Cryopreservation

Now, although vitrification allows us to overcome several problems, it’s not all sunshine and roses. There are many difficulties and problems for medical technology to face.

First, researchers will have to find a cure for various diseases, including old age (which is quite complex). At this point, our R&D team members will have to focus their efforts on revival technology. The cryoprotective substances that avoid ice formation become toxic when the temperature rises. Moreover, we need a technology that can heat all the different tissues of the body evenly and quickly. Nanowarming might provide a solution but the technology necessary has yet to be developed.

There may be a long way to go but seeing recent scientific advances, we are optimistic that medical research will continue along this path and revival will one day be possible.

Cryopreservation with Tomorrow Bio

Now, how does Tomorrow Bio cryopreserve (and not cryogenically freeze) people?

Tomorrow Bio has opened its doors as the first and only European cryonics company in 2019. Its structure is designed to ensure the highest possible long-term safety and quality of cryopreservation. 

Our all-inclusive plans include all the necessary steps. First, a good part of the funds paid for your cryopreservation are allocated for transportation, so that our standby teams can reach you anywhere in the world as quickly as possible. Our teams are trained and equipped for field cryoprotection, and available 24/7. Whether by our SST ambulance or portable equipment, cryoprotection will take place on site, thus avoiding harmful delays. Once your body is vitrified, halting decay, it will be transported to our long-term storage facility. There you’ll be stored in one of our cryogenic storage dewars. At this point we only have to make sure that you stay that way for probably a long time. Significant funds are allocated to long-term storage. No matter how long it takes to cure diseases and develop revival technology. You will remain safely cryopreserved for as long as you need to.

Our long-term facility and research lab is located in Raft, Switzerland. We have chosen this location because of its geographical, economic and political security. 

That being said, would you like to know how much a cryopreservation plan would cost you based on your age? Find out using the price calculator below.

Conclusion

There are an infinite number of misconceptions about cryonics that have been a source of confusion for people. Our job is to provide information and educate people on such an unknown subject. It may seem like a daunting task, but the results are worth the effort. The success of cryopreservation could lead us to a future where people can decide how long to live. Many lives doomed today could be saved. 

Want to know more about our mission? Schedule a call with a member of our team. Or become a member via this link.