My mother is now in cryostasis

by turchin2 min read8th Jan 201115 comments


CryonicsPostmortems & RetrospectivesDeath

I hope this post will help to those who think about cryonics. 

My mother was diagnosed with stomach cancer on 1 Jules 2010.

It was on terminal stage and she died 24 September 2010.

Before, in March she publically said that she is against cryonics on the party at her home.

But several weeks after she learned about cancer I asked her again. I told her that only her brain will be cryonised. But head and body will be buried by Christian ritual.

To my surprise she agreed. She said that she do it because she knows that it is important to me, and also she thought that “studying her brain will help science”.

I ask her to write special will about funeral in free form. The exact text of needed will I got from Cryorus, the only available cryonic company in Moscow.

After it I go to Cryorus and signed two contracts for me and for her.

We reach agreement that I will make payment in the moment of cryopreservation.

She was prominent scientist in the field of art history  - wiki 

So we need to keep the fact or cryopreservation in secret, and I ask the readers of this text not to mention about it in Russian.

23 September she was in hospital and her condition was unstable, but even though the call from hospital in 1.50 AM was unexpected. She died from heart failure. She was fully consciences until last day and didn’t have much pain.

I already have instructed stuff in the hospital that they should call me immediately if she dies, and should put cold wet blanket on her head.

But Russian laws are not well for cryonist: you can’t get full accesses to the body until all documents are prepared in the office of state agency – which is opened only in day time!

I took a car and rush to the hospital together with Danila Medvedev, head of Cryorus and russian transhumanist. We took the body to the cold room  with near zero (C) temperature in morgue, put on it wet blankets, and leave until morning.

The next day I have to do a trick – to cryopreserved my mother and ensure that nobody of her friends will know about it.

This is the main important point of story, because here is the difference about what I expected I will feel, and what actually I felt.

I felt that they could stop me somehow, if they learn that cryopreservation is in progress, because they think that it is against Christian laws, it is mutilation of her body and is against her will after all - they remembered that she publically told that she don’t want cryopreservation.

It was a lot of problems with papers in the hospital, and a transportation car was lost in traffic jams until 2 PM.

Her body had to be transported out of Moscow to another hospital where cryopreservation will start. It taked several hours in traffic jams. During this time we find some ice and also I bought freezed vegetables for her head.

I called her friends and her husband and told everything except that I took the body from the hospital.

In morgue of the second hospital also arrived American cryonist Saul Kent who was visiting Russia.

The stuff quickly take the brain out and start cooling it. They put scull back on place so nobody will see that the brain is removed.

Three day later she got public service in the museum and in the church, and nobody knows that she is not here. Her body was then cremated and the urn was put in family cemetery. I told to several close friends that I move her body to another hospital morgue because “funeral there is cheaper” (it is true).

So, did it help my grave? No. But I think that I did right thing.

I understand that most likely cells of her brain have died, but connectom should preserved for the future scanning. I estimate the total chances of her resurrection in 5 per cent.


15 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 10:08 PM
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If you want to keep this secret, I would advise removing that Russian Wikipedia link. Less Wrong tends to come up very high in Google search, so that searching for the name might bring up this post.

I replaced wiki link with short url, hope it would be ok

I admire what you did and want to show my respect for it; however, if you really do want to keep this a secret, I really recommend removing any references to her real identity. LW is a big and popular site, if you have this text here then it will get out sooner or later.

[-][anonymous]10y 3

You only changed the text, not the link!

This is an amazing story. Congratulations on your courage and the chance you have with your mother which many others do not. Even if it is small it is a source of hope.

This is the first case I've heard of where brain only cryonics was combined with a traditional funeral. KrioRus is the only current cryonics company that does brain only right now, so it is possible that more such cases may originate there in the future.

If this does become public in Russia, we may be presented with a useful data point about how controversial brain-only cryonics is. My theory is that it is less controversial and easier to rationalize for people who have failed to internalize the fact that the brain is a human being. If Ted Williams had been brain only, I wonder how that controversy would have played out differently.

The main point is that the body was legaly buried. By law the body is the skeleton, not the brain. If Criorus failed, I can take the brain home and keep it in the refrigiratoir. Even in US the brain is not covered by law and was many times removed without agreement with relatives. See e.g. A.Einstein brain history.

Good for you, both for convincing her and for getting it done in those circumstances. It took courage to do that. I hope she survives and comes back to you.

Best of luck to her. Though I am curious, are you hiding the fact of her preservation from the authorities or just from her other friends and family? If the authorities, what would/could they actually do? Would there be a stiff punishment for 'desecration of a corpse' or other such nonsense, or are you worried that someone might take her out of cryo? I have heard of a case where a cryo facility here in the US was shut down, but they didn't actually thaw anyone. Hopefully Russian authorities would be at least that sensible.

In fact I am more afraid about "moral pressure" from close friends. The existance of Criorus is well known to public by many TV shows. Of course one day authority could come and ask them - where is the documents? But in her will is said that she donate her brain for scintific study, this is legal.

If it is in her will, then she is probably safe enough. I do understand your wanting to hide the fact from her friends. Being a member of one of the first few generations to be frozen, she is a pioneer in cryonics, and acceptance is always tough for pioneers. In this case however, the pioneers might just live to see a world where people are actually thankful for what they did.

Your English seems to be improving. The grammar and spelling is better than in your earlier top-level posts. I'm a little curious though, given how many Russian speakers there are here, and how many Russians speak some English, if you did want to keep this secret in Russia why put this out here? (I'm also concerned that in general engaging in deceptive behavior to get people preserved will substantially harm the reputation of cryonics.)

(Incidentally if the body was close to the freezing point of water before the actual cryonic preservation, and was only for a day or so, my impression is that ice crystal formation is probably going to cause more damage than amount of time being not preserved at cryonic temperatures.)

[-][anonymous]10y 8

He doesn't seem to want to keep it secret in the sense of "someone doing dedicated research would be unable to figure this out".

He more or less wants to keep it secret in the sense of "I hope my colleagues, friends and family don't find out.". Its also exceedingly unlikely that any Yellow magazine Russian reporter would read this site and even if he did he would be very unlikely to run with the story.

I think his secret is pretty safe in this regard, since to the average person someone the question if someone got cryogenically preserved or not is pretty much a unknown unknown.

I want to keep it in secret only for some my mothers friends and not forever. In fact I was going to tell that she was cryopreserved on the funerall, but it was too hard for me. So I am irrational in this point. Most of russian speakers here are russian transhumanist who already know about the case. Her brain was near zero but not below freesing point, and was partly successfully filed with cryoprotector as I was told. The partial success was due to brain hydrops

In case you haven't done so: remove or change the dates, and change some of the not too important details. Proper annonymization does not change the value of your story for others and might prevent detection.

Good luck and thank you for sharing.