Should I sign up for cryonics ASAP?

Background: 23 y/o male in NYC. No known pre-existing health conditions. Mild → moderate interest in cryonics; in a world without ncov, etc. would probably have a 30-60% chance of signing up.

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Unfortunately, a COVID-19 pandemic presents a lot of challenges to successful cryopreservation, and my guess is that, if you die of COVID-19 during the pandemic, the odds of successful cryopreservation are very low.

(However, it is good and worth it to be signed up for cryonics after the pandemic.)

Infected patients can't travel, so they won't be able to go to a cryonics provider's facility. Cryonics technicians are unlikely to be willing or able to travel into a hard-hit epidemic area at all; even worse, in order to arrive in time, they would have to depart while the patient's odds of survival are still high. Hospitals in a crisis are unlikely to cooperate. The cryopreservation procedure itself poses significant risks for the technician, and the bodies of preserved coronavirus patients are themselves a biohazard.

You say you would "probably have a 30-60% chance of signing up". I assume that is the probability if you were to think about it more and research it more. Cryonics has been known as an option people procrastinate thinking about for a very long time (and from second-hand anecdotes, often until death). So if you're going to think about it at any time, you might as well think about it now. I'm unsure about the expected preservation quality in a pandemic scenario, but regardless, you might as well use the coronavirus as a motivator to think about it now. The coronavirus has a probability of about 0.2% of killing someone your age, which is about the same amount of risk of normal living for 4 years at your age.

I'm personally signed up for cryonics, but I don't necessarily think everyone my age should sign up for cryonics. I've helped multiple people decide whether to sign up, as well as going through the sign up process. I'm happy to help anyone on a donation-basis. You can email me at contact@matiroy.com.

Update: Alcor has written to its members, and it seems pretty well prepared for the pandemics; see my comment on this

4 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 4:40 AM

Alcor posted A message to our members about COVID-19:

Novel coronavirus and the associated COVID-19 pandemic is a top priority at Alcor. The health and safety of our valued Members, staff, and strategic partners is of paramount importance. With the announcement of travel bans and the World Health Organization (WHO) recently declaring COVID-19 as a pandemic, Alcor is taking this threat very seriously. Updates on COVID-19 outbreaks are evolving rapidly and we are actively tracking the situation.

Rest assured, should the need arise, it is Alcor’s policy that we will respond to COVID-19 cases and we will advocate with officials and healthcare providers so we can provide the highest quality cryopreservation for our Members / Patients. Out of an abundance of caution, Alcor has taken and is taking the following steps to prepare to support our valued Members:

  • We proactively ordered medications, supplies and personal protective equipment for our standby, stabilization, and transport (SST) teams before inventory became unavailable. We are fully stocked and prepared to handle higher case volumes, if necessary.
  • We are hosting planning calls with our strategic partners, Suspended Animation (SA) and International Cryomedicine Experts (ICE), to ensure SST professionals are prepared for case work.
  • Alcor, SA, and ICE will coordinate SST to deliver the highest level of care to our Members / Patients that is possible with circumstances that exist.
  • Alcor will enhance our Watchlist to include members that test positive for COVID-19 and we will collaborate with SST professionals for rapid deployment.
  • Alcor Staff members will be allowed to work remotely for non-mission critical functions during this time to mitigate exposure to COVID-19 so they can be in optimal health when case(s) present. Additionally, Alcor will be suspending tours of our facility.
  • Alcor has postponed a training event that was to be held in New York in April with numerous attendees and other events planned for later this year are carefully being reconsidered.
  • Alcor and its partners are monitoring regulations for transport of human remains and human tissue infected with novel coronavirus. According to direct communication from the U.S. State Department, there are no new domestic restrictions for remains transport as of March 12. International cryonics patients will be maintained in dry ice if there are delays in obtaining importation permits, and/or converted to neuropreservation on an emergency basis if serious obstacles to importation of infected whole bodies are encountered.

Some of our Members have expressed interest in relocating, temporarily or permanently, to Scottsdale, AZ. Alcor does not have a specific recommendation regarding relocation because each Member has a unique set of circumstances. However, if a Member wishes to explore relocating closer to Alcor, we are happy to answer questions. International travel is not recommended for members residing in the U.S. due to the possibility of becoming seriously ill while abroad. The recommendations of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) should be followed for domestic travel.

You should contact your healthcare provider if you develop any symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath not related to existing conditions. Your healthcare provider will be able to make a recommendation on if you should come to the office, emergency department, or stay home. If you do test positive for COVID-19, or are hospitalized for any reason, please notify Alcor immediately. Alcor recommends that our Members maintain good hygiene and monitor updates as directly posted by the CDC and WHO.

Blake Honiotes, Alcor's Medical Response Director, wrote (sharing with permission):

Dear Members,

Alcor knows that COVID-19 is in the forefront of our members’ minds. We share that sentiment and have taken steps to prepare for the best cryopreservation possible for any member that may need our services. We have outlined a few of these below to provide transparency into the countless hours we have put into our COVID-19 preparation efforts:

We have fully stocked our Operating Room and Personal Protective Equipment to be prepared for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 cases. We host weekly strategic meetings with our partners, Suspended Animation and International Cryomedicine Experts, to develop plans to best serve our members. We brought in an Infection Prevention Specialist from a local health system to do a full assessment and gap analysis on our processes, from patient pickup to cooldown. We have weekly calls with a local mortician to review policies that may impact our members. Our Medical Response Director is in communication with local health systems to understand current restrictions and policies. We are distancing staff members to limit the risk of spreading COVID-19 to each other.

Rest assured that through this crisis we will continue to serve both whole-body and neuro members and we will respond to COVID-19 or non-COVID-19-related cases. We recognize there is concern surrounding the evolving travel restrictions and we will do everything possible, within legal limits, to reach our members should they need our services. We have support at multiple locations across the country that we can turn to for assistance during this challenging time. When unable to reach members due to international travel restrictions and quarantine rules, we will attempt to work with local cryonics groups and funeral directors to stabilize members until transport can be arranged. Alcor is committed to our members and will continue to work tirelessly for you. As always, please reach out to our Medical Response Director, Blake Honiotes, if you develop COVID-19-like symptoms, contract COVID-19, or are hospitalized for any reason. The Alcor team members are here to serve you and are available should you need anything. Sincerely,

new update:

The COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges for the practice of cryonics. Alcor remains committed to providing cryopreservation when needed. However Alcor members should be aware of limitations during the pandemic. If you are hospitalized, cryonics personnel deployed for standby services might not be allowed to visit you inside the hospital. Electronic contact with care providers and your family will instead be relied upon for condition updates. Prompt access to begin cryonics stabilization procedures after legal death may not be possible in hospitals. Alcor or its contractor partners will negotiate for fastest possible access to begin procedures. If you become terminally ill, home hospice care or care at a cooperating hospice facility is recommended to permit faster cryonics response than hospital care. Since the best care is possible near Alcor, Alcor will continue to financially assist terminal members with relocation to Scottsdale, Arizona.

Due to loss of service from contract surgeons during the pandemic, and due to concern about circulating large volumes of infectious fluid with potential generation of airborne droplets during mixing, Alcor will not be using its normal cryoprotectant perfusion machines during the pandemic. Alcor will instead use the procedure Field Cryoprotectant Perfusion FCP. In FCP, only the head is perfused with vitrification solution via the carotid arteries using a simplified perfusion procedure in which no fluids are recirculated. This procedure means that during the pandemic, whole body cryonics patients will be cryopreserved without receiving any chemical protection from freezing injury below the neck. Whether FCP will be performed in the field, as its name suggests, or in Alcor's facility will depend upon logistics and surgeon availability on a case-by-case basis. Further precautions will apply to cases known to be positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. For COVID-19 cases, initial stabilization in ice will be limited to an abbreviated list of anticoagulant and other medications circulated by several minutes of chest compressions with the head covered to prevent exhaled breath from entering the room.

These restrictions may change as personnel gain more experience doing cases with scrupulous infection control procedures, if perfusion machine design changes are made, and if normal surgical service during the pandemic can be secured. Alcor will work on all these problems at the same time that it does a comprehensive review of all infection control procedures to ensure a safe baseline of operations during a highly contagious respiratory virus pandemic. If vaccine development takes longer than expected, there will be even greater efforts to safely return to normal practices by 2021. However, these are the limitations that Alcor is currently operating under. This temporary "fall back" position is necessary for the safety and continued availability of the limited number of specialized personnel whom Alcor has available to provide cryonics care for everyone during these extraordinary times.

I suspect that you are better off investing wisely and buying a lump-sum membership at some point in the future, say, when you are in your 40s.