23 year old cancer victim cryogenically frozen after raising funds on Reddit

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Five months ago, a woman named Kim Suozzi took to Reddit to ask the community for a strange favour: to help her be cryogenically frozen. The 23-year-old had been diagnosed with a rare form of aggressive brain cancer while studying cognitive neuroscience at university, and had tried numerous treatments in the hopes of extending her life expectancy. Cryogenics was her last hope. Now it seems she has got her wish.

The Redditor originally used the platform to ask for suggestions of what she should do before she died, but later asked for help in raising the minimum of US$28 000 needed to preserve her body in the hopes that a cure for her cancer will be found in the future.

In the post, she wrote that she had been interested in cryonics before her diagnosis, but could not afford the treatment. “I know this is a big thing to ask for, and I’m sure many people are doubtful that preservation is plausible with cryonics,” she explained. “I’m far from convinced, but I would rather take the chance with preservation than rot in the ground or get cremated.”

According to the Society for Venturism, the non-profit which took on Suozzi’s case after her post gained traction on Reddit and helped her raise an initial US$7000, she has been successfully preserved after she passed away last week:

Kim Suozzi reportedly deanimated in a hospice in Scottsdale, AZ, and went into cryosuspension at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation on January 17, 2013, funded mainly by the donations many people have made to the Society for Venturism. On behalf of Miss Suozzi, we wish to thank you for your compassion and generosity.

The post originally caused some controversy on Reddit, as the community was wary of a scam and because there is no guarantee the procedure will better her chances of survival in the future. Souzzi acknowledged the commenters who queried her plan, saying that she was not betting her life on cryopreservation, but that it offered her a better chance of living again than any other option:

I am aware of the problems with the current state of cryonics, but I have the hope that technology might come up with a solution in the future. No one knows what technology will be available in 50 years. Yes, it takes “faith” in technology, but it takes faith to assume that technology won’t be sufficient to reverse these problems someday.

[Hat tip: Betabeat]

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  • advancedatheist

    I helped to raise the money for Miss Suozzi’s cryosuspension, but I would jump to the head of the line of saying that we nonetheless need radically better procedures than what today’s cryonics organizations offer.

    Fortunately some of today’s mainstream neuroscientists have started to head in that direction. Refer to the website of the Brain Preservation Foundation:

    http://www.brainpreservation.org/

    “Does cryonics as practiced today adequately preserve the synaptic connectivity of an entire human brain?”

    This is also a well-defined scientific question that can be answered today. This question is of great importance, particularly to terminally ill patients wishing to preserve their memories or identities today, for which cryonic preservation of unknown efficacy is presently their only alternative.

    We at the Brain Preservation Foundation are dedicated to seeing that these questions are answered in a definitive scientific manner as soon as possible. To do so we have introduced the Brain Preservation Technology Prize – a prize that challenges connectomics researchers and cryonics practitioners alike to demonstrate their best whole brain preservation techniques on an animal whose brain is then sectioned at 1mm
    intervals and subjected to an independent comprehensive electron microscopic
    sampling survey looking for damage that would destroy synaptic connectivity. The Prize is designed to uncover the truth about the quality of today’s preservation techniques and to spur research into better techniques.

    In other words, we have ways of making progress in improving brain preservation in the here and now with the goal of trying to leave personal identity intact, or at least inferable, without having to invoke speculative future technologies.

    I also include some background information about cryonics for those unfamiliar with its assumptions and arguments:

    1. General but outdated background information on the idea, mainly of
    historical interest now:

    .

    The Prospect of Immortality (1964), by Robert Ettinger:

    http://www.cryonics.org/book1.html

    2. “Cryopreservation of rat hippocampal slices by vitrification” (a peer-reviewed scientific paper):

    http://www.21cm.com/pdfs/hippo_published.pdf

    Microscopic examination showed severe damage in frozen–thawed slices, but generally good to excellent ultrastructural and histological preservation after vitrification. Our results provide the first demonstration that both the viability and the structure of mature organized, complex neural networks can be well preserved by vitrification. These results may assist neuropsychiatric drug evaluation and development and the transplantation of integrated brain regions to correct brain disease or injury.

    3. Mike Darwin’s Chronosphere blog:

    .

    http://chronopause.com/

    Mike goes back nearly to the beginnings of cryonics in the late 1960’s, and his blog offers a metaphorical gold mine of information, including references to a lot of scientific papers, about the field and its current but probably surmountable problems.

    4. The X PRIZE Foundation has a concept under consideration for a Cryopreservation X PRIZE:

    http://www.xprize.org/prize/cryopreservation-x-prize

    This competition offers two benefits to humanity. First, the ability to increase the number and availability of transplantable organs for patients with organ failure; and
    second, the ability to move forward the science of human cryopreservation which offers the ability to preserve patients with incurable diseases until a time when medical science has sufficiently progressed to be able to treat the disease.

    5. MIT neuroscientist Sebastian Seung defends cryonic suspension as a feasible scientific-medical experiment in his book Connectome, and he spoke at Alcor’s conference in Scottsdale, AZ, on October 20, 2012:

    http://alcor.org/conferences/2012/index.html

    http://hebb.mit.edu/people/seung/

    http://www.amazon.com/Connectome-How-Brains-Wiring-Makes/dp/0547508182

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/100220308/Aschwin-de-Wolf-s-review-of-Connectome-by-Sebastian-Seung

    From ALCOR-40 CONFERENCE REVIEW:

    http://www.alcor.org/magazine/2013/01/16/alcor-40-conference-review/

    Sebastian Seung, Ph.D.

    Day One of the conference ended with Sebastian Seung’s “Connectomics and Cryonics,” followed by a discussion of his talk. Seung began by explaining that connectomics is the application of techniques such as 3D imaging to build high-resolution maps of neural
    connections. The resulting map is known as the connectome. While working in the
    field at MIT, Seung met Alcor member and Harvard neuroscientist Kenneth
    Hayworth. When talking with Hayworth one day, Seung realized the implications
    of connectomics for cryonics and included some of his thoughts on the subject
    in his book Connectome, which elicited varied reactions.

    Starting with the hypothesis that
    “you are your connectome” (reminiscent of “The Astonishing Hypothesis” of
    Francis Crick), Seung presented evidence from neuroscience that
    chemopreservation successfully preserves brain structure as evidenced by
    reconstructions using serial electron micrographs (EM). He then asked whether
    memories can be “read” from such connectomes and discussed what kinds of
    structural information might be important to answering such questions.
    Ultimately, he concluded that connectivity, including the shapes of neurons and
    locations of synapses, is what must be preserved in order to construct the
    identity contained within.

    But Seung wonders how well cryonics preserves brain structure compared to chemical preservation methods.

    To that end, Seung and Hayworth announced the Technology Prize to be awarded by the Brain Preservation Foundation to the first individual or team to demonstrate a technique capable of preserving a human brain for long-term storage with high fidelity. The current contenders for the first stage of the prize have employed both chemo- and cryopreservation methods, but the required imaging and analyses of these samples has not yet been completed. Seung’s presentation was followed by a relatively long discussion with the audience, which quickly turned into a debate about the merits of chemopreservation and cryopreservation. Topics discussed included the long-term stability of chemopreserved brains and whether the Technology Prize is neutral between both approaches.

  • http://crazysexycool.co.za/sticker-blog MonkeyMarcel

    Great so they wake her body up in 2299. A piece of meat is all they will find. They missed one major thing. You have soul. Test it now, freeze someone for a week and then thaw them to see if they wake up. They won’t. That’s why this is not a option in real life. You die… for ever, even in the future.

    Plus another problem they did not think of, let’s say everything goes as planned and she wakes up in the future, how will she survive without having money or a support structure in the future? Inflation will cripple what ever she takes along, plus all her family and friends will be dead. She will be all alone.

    Waste of time and energy.

  • http://twitter.com/lsparrish Luke Parrish

    I think it’s awesome that Reddit was so generous. Hopefully this will raise awareness that this option exists and more people will be able to have some peace about their end-of-life situations. It is not cheap, but it compares well to other extreme medical procedures. And it does seem to provide some measure of peace and closure.

    The $80k head-only option is the most likely to work (more so than the $200k full body version, interestingly enough) because it permits more rapid cooling, which in turn allows preservation with less damage. It is not certain to work because we do not know exactly how memories are stored, but the most likely hypothesis is that connections between neurons are the fundamental mechanism. As long as that holds true, Kim and others who receive prompt attention after clinical death have a fighting chance.

  • TheWordOfGod

    A scientific cure might or might not be available in 50 years time but a religious cure is available even today. It is your faith in the Word of God that gets a hold of it. Try to get more info from the following website http://www.enterthehealingschool.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/kyle.schultz.89 Kyle Schultz

    The word of god isn’t going to heal anything. Don’t belittle this amazing scientific venture and insult our intelligence with your religious propaganda. There is a time and place for that, and it is not here. You don’t see scientists bashing into your church and handing out factual documents. Show some respect.

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