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Why Switzerland Is A Great Location for Long-Term Storage

Favorable geographical location, political neutrality, thriving economy.. What more?

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At Tomorrow Bio, the fastest-growing cryonics organization, we offer all-inclusive human cryopreservation services. What does this mean? People interested in undergoing this procedure can sign up with us. After their legal death, trained medical experts (a so-called SST team) will preserve their bodies through a surgical procedure that involves cryoprotective agents (medical grade anti-freeze) and very low temperatures. When medical technology has developed enough to treat their causes of death and revive them, they might have a chance at an extended life in the future. This could take centuries. Throughout all those years, cryopreserved patients will be stored inside a long-term storage facility. Together with our partner organization the European Biostasis Foundation (EBF), we have recently inaugurated such a facility in Rafz, Switzerland. You might wonder, why there? Well, there are several reasons… But first of all:

What Is Long-Term Storage?

As explained above, the cryopreservation procedure allows us to pause the biological activity and cell degradation of a tissue or organism - in our case, an entire human being. In cryonics,“long-term storage” refers to the period of time between the end of the procedure and possible future revival. This is not defined, as we cannot predict how long it will take for the necessary technology to develop.

Upon legal death, the patient undergoes a series of steps, including lowering their body temperature, complete perfusion with cryoprotective agents and much more.

The procedure can be carried out in the field or, if more convenient, in the long-term storage facility. In both scenarios, at the end of cryoprotection, the core temperature is lowered further to that of liquid nitrogen, which is -196℃. This is because cryonics members are currently preserved in specialized containers called cryogenic storage dewars which, filled with liquid nitrogen, maintain the extremely low temperature and with it the inactivity in the individual's biological activity.

Why Is It Crucial for the Success of Cryonics?

Now, whilst performing a high-quality procedure is key for future revival, ensuring preservation for an unlimited time is no less important. In fact, even the best cryopreservation would be of no use if after a few decades storage could no longer be maintained. Put simply, the patient would thaw out and all the effort expended would be in vain. 

For this reason, it is essential that any cryonics organization takes great caution when choosing where to build their long-term care facility. As difficult as it is to predict the future, there are certain cautions one can take when choosing a location. For example, some countries are more politically secure than others. The same applies to their economic situation: usually, a thriving economy is not turned around overnight. Finally, the choice of the geographical area should not introduce risk. For example, it would not make sense to build close to the coast in the Netherlands, when we know that global warming will lead to a rise in the sea level. Just as it would logically be better to avoid areas of high seismic activity, not to mention the vicinity of still active volcanoes!

And this brings us to EBF's storage facility, where Tomorrow Bio members will remain in the expert hands of the medical staff for probably many years to come.

The EBF Facility in Rafz, Switzerland

Construction of EBF's storage facility and research labs began in July, 2021. As of now, the building is completed and equipped with everything needed such as the perfusion system, computerized cooling chamber, and dewars. Attendees at the Biostasis2022 Conference had a chance to visit the spaces where human cryopreservation technology will be further developed and improved in the years to come. In case you missed this opportunity, we can give you a short overview. The structure consists of:

  • A cozy lobby - where our annual conference took place.
  • An equipped laboratory - to research and improve cryopreservation techniques.
  • A medical and imaging room - where our medical staff will stabilize and perfuse patients who died in the vicinity of the facility.
  • A spacious storage room - for the long-term care of Tomorrow Bio’s members.

EBF storage room with one cryogenic dewar
The EBF storage area is located underground, for greater safety

The decision to divide responsibilities into two separated entities is both for practical reasons and for long-term stability. Tomorrow Bio is in charge of training the SST team, which is available for dispatch 24/7. EBF, on the other hand, is responsible for biostasis research and provides a secure location for members until possible future revival.

But why did the board of cryonics experts at the head of EBF decide to set it up precisely in Rafz, Switzerland?

Why We Chose Razf

EBF’s long-term storage facility is located in the new industrial park close to the Rafz train station. Rafz is a quiet village in the canton of Zurich, in Northern Switzerland. Not only is it surrounded by green fields and natural areas (the perfect place for a peaceful 'rest'), but it also has  a very favorable transportation connection. Rafz is very close to the German border, making the facility easily reachable in the DACH region. Moreover, the Zurich international airport is only around 20 minutes away by car and 30 minutes by train. By building the facility in a village, rather than in a major city, it avoids everyday metropolitan problems such as traffic.

Satellite picture of the area around EBF’s long-term storage facility where you can see many green areas
Satellite picture of the area around EBF’s long-term storage facility

The risk of natural disasters in this area is very low: flooding is extremely unlikely because the property is high enough above streams and the Rhine river. The building’s underground is gravely, so any rain water seeps away quickly, and the groundwater is located dozens of meters below the surface. Moreover, the canton of Zurich is a region with a low seismic risk. There is no nuclear power plant in close proximity and the risk of all sorts of crime is very low, as in most of Switzerland.

In the neighborhood of the long-term storage facility there are other hightech buildings such as a new datacenter and another biotech building.

Why We Chose Switzerland

Now, not only is the village of Rafz optimal but also the country, Switzerland, has attractive qualities for a cryonics organization that aims to last.

Swiss non profit foundations are overseen by a governmental body which makes certain that the purpose of the foundation does not change. This helps to ensure that EBF stays stable and on mission even as, 100 years from now, the board will be made up of people still unknown to us. Even if they wanted to change the objective of the organization, which is biostasis research for future possible revival, they wouldn't be allowed to do so. On top of that, the statutes and bylaws of EBF were made to optimize stability (e.g. vote quorums, self amending boards, etc.).

Finally, Switzerland is one of the most politically and economically secure countries in the world. It ranks 6th in the Fund for Peace Fragility States index (2022) and 12th in the World Bank Political Stability Index (2021).

Conclusion

Safe long-term storage is essential for the success of cryonics. It's not enough to preserve a person, it must also be ensured that they reach a future where medical technology can potentially cure them 'intact'. It is no coincidence that most of the funds paid for a human cryopreservation plan (about 3/5), go to finance indefinite care.

Of course, in extreme cases it is always possible to move cryopreserved patients to another site. However, since this is not the most practical solution, it is best to put as much effort as possible into choosing a safe location from the outset.

Our founder and CEO Dr. Emil Kendziorra spent a lot of time calculating an ideal location for the long-term storage of Tomorrow Bio members. In the end, the choice fell on Rafz, probably one of the most stable, safe, and easily accessible villages in the world. It’s a village where Emil himself expects to be cryopreserved and stored one day, as he awaits potential revival with the other cryopreserved patients.

If you would like to learn more about our services, you can schedule a call with a member of our team. Or check out our online editorial Tomorrow Insight, where we cover all the basics of human cryopreservation, Tomorrow Bio and more.

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