Wednesday, July 21, 2010

VANCOUVER RECORDS IT'S FIRST CRYONIC SUSPENSION "PATIENT" - July 2010 - Mother frozen in hospital and shipped to Cryonic Suspension facility

Canada's governments have a long history of blocking debate on Cryonic Suspension - the freezing of whole bodies or heads of people who hope for resuscitation in the distant future. Our only exposure to the concept is Hollywood movies and the popular cartoon series FUTURAMA. The permafrost of Canadian public opinion (cheered on by Funeral Industry lobbyists) have prevented a few well intentioned Cryonics Societies from taking root and thriving here. Why so many years of mocking these groups?
Cryonics have been satirized in this country for decades. Humour columnist Gary Lautens of the Toronto Star set the tone way back in 1964 when he advised prospective volunteers for Cryogenic suspension "Let me know if the light really goes out when you close the refrigerator door, eh?" Then an urban myth arose in 1967 claiming that Walt Disney had been "frozen". Not true, but the mockery grew intense. If memory serves, even CBC comedians Wayne and Shuster got in on the act. Funeral Directors nationwide enjoyed the joke. Well the real story today is that a few Canadian believers in the concept are refusing to be thwarted.

Vancouver Milestone - B.C.'s First Cryonic Suspension patient- July 9, 2010
At 1:30 AM July 3rd a Vancouver woman was found slumped in front of a PC. Perhaps she was surfing the Net as we all do late at night. Her husband phoned 911 and she was rushed to the Emergency at a nearby hospital. At 12 Noon she was moved to the ICU and given a brain scan. At 6:30 PM a physician pronounced her dead... and that ending was the start of a new life. The life of a long term cryonic "patient".

The quoted price was US$28,000, with an initial deposit of US$1250 required to set complex procedures in motion. This unplanned case (the family has never been a member of any Cryonic Society) was an imposition on the American Cryo-support team because they had to assemble on the July 4th long weekend holiday. The Vancouver family paid the initial deposit with a PayPal account and engaged the services of a cooperative Funeral Director. (The Funeral Industry is very hostile to the whole concept of cryonics.) The balance of the $28,000 fee was paid by bank transfer.

The patient's son, accompanied by the Funeral Director, were waiting in a room adjacent to the ICU until hospital staff declared his Mom legally dead. They rolled in a temporary coffin containing almost 80 pounds of dry ice, and removed her from the hospital. A few hours later she was sealed inside four body bags, each inside the next, and transferred to a sheet metal box. An additional 120 pounds of dry ice was added. The metal box was nested with thick Styrofoam sheeting inside an outer case made from West Fraser Plywood. The lady was stored until the Funeral Director could get the necessary paperwork from the U.S. Consulate. Properly sealed with a Customs declaration the coffin was transported to YVR on July 7 and loaded aboard a Delta Airlines flight to Detroit on July 8. The patient was entrusted to perpetual care in the U.S. because there is no service offered anywhere in Canada. Cryonic Suspension is outlawed here and all the Law permits is the transfer of a loved one to a foreign storage facility. Technical details on the suspension process can be read at the Cryonics Institute website. They trumpet this case as their "98th patient".
Cryogenic storage - frozen CanadiansThis is the Cryogenic storage facility in the Michigan where British Columbia's first Cryogenic storage patient is resting. MRS. X died on July 3, 2010 in a Vancouver I.C.U. and was flown to Detroit on July 8. Her son arrived at the facility on July 9 and witnessed the two day produre as his mother was cooled and finally frozen for perpetual storage. The procedure cost - US$ 28,000.

Canadian woman prepared for Cryogenic suspensionVancouver Cryonic Milestone -The transfer completed, the staff of the Cryogenic support team display the empty transfer case, custom built to Cryogenic standards, by a Vancouver Funeral Director. Note the Yellow label "HUMAN REMAINS" and "YVR".
Vancouver - the Cryonic InstituteVancouver Cryonic Milestone - A Cryonic Institute staff member displays the transfer case, shipped from YVR Vancouver, B.C. The patient's body was carefully preserved in 200 pounds of dry ice, resting inside four rubber body bags, a sheet metal coffin, Styroifoam and a plywood outer case.

The CREMATION, INTERMENT AND FUNERAL SERVICES ACT (2004) outlaws the selling or even promotion of Cryonic services in this British Columbia. A local funeral business will be prosecuted if it even displays brochures on the premises. The ACT can be read here.
Cryogenic Suspension - Vancouver, B.C.The only advocacy for Cryonic services in Canada is undertaken by the few societies which exist here. The largest group meets in Toronto. Here in British Columbia the concept is totally thwarted and the Funeral Industry is ever vigilant. From time to time elected officials issue "Comfort Letters" to assure Cryonics advocates that their government is not picking on them. Here is an example signed by Minister Rich Coleman in 2002.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I have examined plenty of ghastly imagery in my time ... "horrors of war" footage, targets of assassinations, monstrous mutilations of clan enemies, and charred chunks of suicide bombers. All of it is repugnant and reprehensible. My reaction to atrocity is often sadness or outrage but even natural carnage becomes objectionable when men fail to show compassion. That was certainly the case when a series of photos which showed me bodies of Haitian earthquake victims being hauled to a landfill mixed with building rubble. Bucket loaders had scooped up corpses and concrete and poured them into dump trucks with no attempt to offer a moment of dignity for the dead, most of whom must have been very spiritual in life.

I had similar feelings of outrage last week as I read a story in the DAILY MAIL about growing interest in a chemical reduction process to get rid of human remains - a gruesome process known as RESOMATION. The cynical attempt of some to sell this outrage as an an "eco-friendly," progressive service to the public, is an insult to the intelligence of anyone who still has a caring bone left in their body. I haven't been this disturbed about callous trends in the Funeral Industry since my first reading of "Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain," extracted from Jessica Mitford's investigative book THE AMERICAN WAY OF DEATH.

You can read the entire DAILY MAIL article (here) or you can settle for all the "Who cares anyway!" responses to the piece which arose next day. Just tickle Uncle Google with a few key strokes and he'll point you to them.

Three grinning funeral "Directors" demonstrate an American version of a Resomation system. I would imagine their first exports will be to Mexican drug cartels, some of which are already know to dissolve their opponents in 45 gallon drums.

A human volunteer lays his body in stainless steel RESOMATION tank which will reduce his body to a bucket of sludge in less than two hours. Unlike the ceramic bathtub destroyed when it was used to dissolve a rival drug dealer's corpse in an episode of BREAKING BAD, this engineered process is guaranteed to destroy thousands of bodies maintenance free.

This bucket holds the sludge recovered after dissolving two large pigs. Dissolving a human being produces half as much sludge, but more guilt than any of us should be willing to bear.
You can watch a slide show of the process demonstrated (here). No, the company is not a subsidiary of I.G. Farbenindustrie. It's a proud American firm named CYCLEDLIFE.


"Section 182 (b) Every one who improperly or indecently interferes with or offers any indignity to a dead human body or human remains, whether buried or not, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years. R.S., c. C-34, s. 178."

This section of Canada's Criminal Code usually gets trotted out when gang bangers or other outlaws burn or scatter the bodies of people they've murdered. It's about time it was amended to deal with "Resomation" and other processes which may be concocted to make people vanish without trace, as they do in George Orwell's allegory of a world where living memory, identity and history disappear.


Too many people seem to have come to the conclusion that life has no purpose or meaning. They are not burdened with a sense of responsibility, they feel no loyalty to a community, they have no personal goals, romance is a humbug, Art does not move them, reading is a bore, even raw pornography doesn't stir their flesh. Sadly they chose to forgo the 1.2 children that was their due. Since they have a sneaking suspicion no one will come to their funeral anyway, cremation has become the 'send off' of choice. Almost 75% of "the departed" in Greater Vancouver are now disposed of in the crematoriums. East Asian families are now permitted to burn their dead on an open air pyre located beside the Fraser River.

I have a passion for the past and I often share news of fresh archaeological discoveries with my son. We agree that human remains should be treated with dignity and respect. Always. When we examine the burial practices of past cultures we notice an emphasis on something of the eternal in the human spirit. Love, for instance, is an expression of the eternal and a recognition that we are not simply clever animals residing at the top of a food chain. When for instance we find human remains which have been carefully interred in a fashion which documents love in perpetuity (as below) we have to question our own resolve to do what is fitting and proper. "Would I do any less for those I love?"

The B.C. Government will punish any property owner who discovers aboriginal remains and fails to accord those remains their lawful due. It is very strange that respect for our own dead continues to erode and that we may reach a point where traditional burial and the provision for perpetual care disappears from our culture.

Although the family relationship of these adolescent remains are in dispute - a brother/sister, or a bonded couple, there is no denying the fact that their burial ceremonial was invested with a degree of love and loyalty that is rarely matched in our own time. I am overjoyed that their bodies were not left exposed to the jackals or the vultures, because their embrace is a promise that something of human existence, and our individual lives, is eternal. We can count on it.

The Final Word: My thanks to Sandy Chang, a student in Burnaby, B.C. who drew my attention to a Japanese book called THE CATALOGUE OF DEATH which includes a section on plans or current practices for disposing of the unwanted dead. This illustration (from the Taiwan edition of the book) shows how Swedes are getting the job done. The human sludge is not washed down the drain but instead used for garden fertilizer. I like how the machine has an earth friendly" recyle" logo.