Cryonics, aka biostasis, is a bit of a complex topic. As is the case with such subjects, it can generate a lot of questions. What is it? Does it even work? Can I be cryopreserved alive? These are some of the questions that we at Tomorrow Bio, the fastest-growing cryonics company in Europe, often receive from people that have never heard about the topic. We cover some of them in our FAQ page, but here we wanted to go through some of the most commonly asked questions.
Some of the topics that worry people the most are related to legality, ethics, and the chances of revival.
Different European countries have different laws related to burial practices. To avoid any possible difficulties, cryonics organizations found an alternative way to address this issue. Instead of classifying cryopreservation as a burial practice, it’s legally framed as scientific research.
When you sign a contract with a provider, you agree to donate your body to research after your legal death. Donating one’s body for scientific research is legal in most European countries (Germany, Switzerland, Austria, etc.). However, your body won’t be used for scientific research. The cryopreservation process itself is labeled as such for legal purposes. Thanks to this, a body is permitted to travel from one country to another without legal intervention. This framework has been used in the last few years by several European members without issue.
At Tomorrow Bio, we are partnered with the European Biostasis Foundation (EBF), which takes care of the long-term storage of our patients. EBF is a non-profit organization based in Rafz, Switzerland dedicated to the “basic, translational, and applied research in the areas of biostasis, cryobiology, and biopreservation”. When signing up for cryopreservation with Tomorrow Bio, you agree that your body will be donated to EBF after your legal death.
Our standby teams (SST) are equipped and trained for field cryoprotection, meaning that they will stabilize and perfuse you with cryoprotectant agents (CPAs) at your location. Only then your body is transported to EBF where vitrification is completed and stored indefinitely. Should you be in the vicinity of the long-term storage facility at the time of legal death, the entire procedure would take place inside the building.
The ethicality of cryonics has been a topic of controversy since the field of science was first conceived. There are usually two camps that people often side with: 1) human cryopreservation and revival aren’t possible and will never be, or 2) this procedure will advance technologically to the point that it is possible to wake up from biostasis. This comes with a whole slew of ethical discussions to consider such as the possibility of achieving some sort of “immortality”, or whether humanity should be allowed to live a longer life than we currently do. Let’s break down a few points here.
First of all, the purpose of cryonics is not to achieve immortality. Human cryopreservation is a medical procedure intended to help save lives by stopping cellular decay after legal death. This means that patients who are cryopreserved could eventually be cured of their cause of death through the use of future technology. It’s an emergency procedure similar to techniques like cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). It’s possible that when or if revival works, technological innovations will advance human longevity to the point that a form of immortality is achievable. However, biostasis will not be the main method of achieving this.
The second point to consider is whether it is ethical for humanity to live a longer life than we currently do. In the last few decades, medical professionals have discovered more ways to save and extend people’s lives by treating illnesses. Is it unethical to transplant organs if a patient’s liver is failing? Or to take antibiotics when someone is sick? Or to get vaccinated to prevent the spread of deadly diseases? If the ethicality of cryonics is up for discussion, then we must consider all previous medical interventions and techniques that have helped extend human life expectancy. If it is unethical to live a long life, humanity would have stopped finding ways to cure and treat disease and injury.
At Tomorrow Bio, we consider human cryopreservation to be an ethical option for anyone interested in life extension.
The honest answer is we don’t know when or even if.
At the moment, cryopreservation and subsequent functional revival are only possible for certain organisms: tissues, semen, embryos, and some types of worms. Researchers are currently working on finding a successful way to thaw entire organs. Once the cryopreservation of organs is achieved, research will move to more complex organisms. There are also ongoing theories as to how revival could be accomplished ranging from in situ repairs to molecular scan-and-restore. However, this requires more advanced technologies than we currently don’t have.
How long will it take to develop this technology? Again, it is difficult to predict. However, in this industry, time is not an issue. Whether it takes decades or centuries, our patients will remain cryopreserved indefinitely. This gives technology time to advance enough to make revival possible. Biologically, there is no limit to how long a person can be in biostasis as all metabolic processes in the body are paused in this state. Since our patients can be preserved long-term, we are confident that at some point in time they will be revived - we just can’t guarantee when.
Additionally, people want to know more about Tomorrow Bio. Since we are a young company, there is some skepticism about our ability to deliver our promises. This is why we have created a structure that is as secure and transparent as possible.
Ah yes, the common question is as old as the profession itself. This is because the success of cryonics is based on a technology that doesn’t exist yet. When choosing a biostasis organization, it’s important to make sure that it is legally committed to its mission.
How can Tomorrow Bio make sure that we will continue pursuing revival for as long as needed? During our foundation, careful thought was put into creating the most stable and secure structure. This technology may take centuries to develop and it’s important that the people who will take over our organization after us will have rules to follow and respect.
Our partner organization, the European Biostasis Foundation (EBF), takes care of the long-term storage of Tomorrow’s patients. Foundations in Switzerland are overseen by a government body to ensure that the purpose of the foundation does not change. This helps to ensure that EBF remains secure and on course to reach its mission. Additionally, the statutes and bylaws of EBF were made to optimize stability (e.g. self amending board, vote quorums, etc). Switzerland itself is also one of the most secure and stable countries in the world. Switzerland ranks 6th in the Fund for Peace Fragile States index (2021) and 12th in the World Bank Political Stability Index (2021).
Finally, Tomorrow Bio is a mission-driven organization. The entire company, from our co-founders to our standby team to our office departments is dedicated to this. Most of our employees have signed up themselves and are actively doing their best to ensure the success of biostasis. We are all personally committed to achieving revival and making an extended life in the future possible.
Tomorrow Bio is structured to be significantly more financially stable than most companies. Since our cryopreserved patients’ security is of primary importance, we decided to store them at the EBF long-term storage facility. Since EBF is a non-profit organization, they would not be affected by any change at Tomorrow Bio. EBF’s funding sources are independent of us, which means that if Tomorrow Bio went bankrupt, our patients would be completely safe since EBF supervises their storage.
But what about members that haven’t been cryopreserved yet?
They would be asked if they would prefer to cancel their biostasis contract or change the beneficiary to another existing provider in order to maintain their coverage somewhere else. We would help members set up a contract with another organization if that is something they want.
It’s important to remember that bankruptcy doesn’t happen overnight. If things went wrong, we would know in advance, and we would do all we can to assure the best possible outcome for our members.
Since revival will take some time to realize, our members would wake up in a future that is different from today. Society changes constantly, and there is a chance that people who lived in the past may find some things unusual, possibly overwhelming. For this reason, it is important that our patients receive support once they wake up.
Reintegration will be critical for anyone waking up from biostasis. Some patients may have family members that will help them adjust and adapt to their new life. Others may find themselves without a “blood connection” and will need help to integrate into society. Whatever the circumstances, we will help our members assimilate into future society, guaranteeing their basic needs are met.
This is just a fraction of some of the questions we usually receive at Tomorrow Bio. We are constantly working to educate people on the topic of human cryopreservation and address all the possible doubts through our articles, as well as through Discord and calls to our office. If you have any of your own about what we do, feel free to reach out to us. We also have an Ebook out that discusses who Tomorrow Bio is and what we do. Give it a read, and see you tomorrow!