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Editor's Blog

Peter Rothman
October 3, 2012


Many readers will recall the recent story about a young woman Kim Suozzi who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, and was seeking financial help for cryonic suspension. The plea was controversial for a number of different reasons, but it is now a settled matter with the Alcor board agreeing to fund Ms. Suozzi's cryopreservation. "The board accepted the CEO’s recommendation to accept Kim Suozzi as a charity case, based on arrangements that will reduce Alcor’s costs. The full allocation of $25,000 to the patient care trust fund will be made. Alcor members have contributed to the fundraising effort to enable Kim to be cryopreserved."

The good news is of course that this will hopefully provide Ms. Suozzi with the peace of mind she deserves. But the story remains controversial due to the possibility that many terminally ill patients might seek preservation on a charitable basis and how this might impact the viability of the operation going forward. Further the fact that cryopreservation does not cure her condition in any sense is a complication. Terminal patients may not be the best candidates for successful preservation and revival simply in terms of probability of success.The controversy here is likely to continue therefore.

In addition to funding Ms. Suozzi's preservation the following resolution was  passed by the board: “Alcor shall tender to the PCT the full amount of the current PCT minimums for all underfunded cases, as soon as practicably consistent with Alcor’s cash flow needs, except to the extent that the PCT board waives some amount. Any amount not immediately paid shall be recorded as a liability to be discharged as soon as practicably possible.” So it seems there is a real commitment from the Alcor board to work with more people like Kim despite the challenges.

The board also increased the relocation allowance to $10,000. "Alcor has previously offered terminal members up to $5,000 to relocate to the Scottsdale area. Relocation close to Alcor both substantially reduces costs and improves the expected quality of procedures by greatly reducing transport time and enabling the team to go straight to cryoprotection rather than first doing a remote blood washout and long-distance transport."

Importantly, Alcor CEO Max More writes "If cryonics is to become more widely accepted in the general scientific community, we need to add to existing evidence for the effectiveness of our procedures. One way to do this is to gather more data during all stages of stabilization, transport, and cryoprotection. We can also gather evidence of the quality and effectiveness of brain perfusion and structural preservation by routine CT scanning of neuro patients and by conducting biopsies of spinal cord and possibly other samples for all patients. The board expressed general support for carefully moving forward with this, ensuring that members understand what we propose to do." I agree with this and further I suggest that improved scientific credibility and communication with the scientific community broadly will help to achieve the board's other goals as well.

More information here: http://www.alcor.org/blog/?p=2645

[Editor's Note: Full disclosure, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Humanity+ Natasha Vita-More (my boss) is also an advisor to Alcor Life Extension Foundation]


7 Comments

    Thanks for this timely and relevant article.
    On a side note, I wonder why it is that a forward thinking, technology company like Alcor has it's board meeting (pictured above) almost inundated with paper? What kind of message does this visual send?

    I kinda knew it was headed towards this, Shannon Vyff said she was gunning for Alcor after I made my donation. Not that I regret the donation. I just think Alcor is using this as a P.R. stunt. 1.) The article mentioned doesn't even bring up Cryonics Institute members making donations as well. 2.) Natasha works closesly with H+ magazine. So I would say that has something to do with it. This fundraiser started out as a $28,000 C.I. suspension. Then she raised $45,000 last I heard from Shannon Vyff. Now Kim's going for a neuro at Alcor.

    I wonder if she didn't have as much publicity would she even be accepted as a charitable case from Alcor and is she a whole body suspension for Alcor? I'd ask Dennis to take down one of Kelly Moy's comments a few weeks back, we both agreed it seemed a little harsh that Kim with her education should have had some funds of her own to pay for a suspension for C.I. I still don't agree with this but it makes you wonder, and what would the public's response be if they knew she was having her head cut off, if that is the case. I don't know if any of you remember any of Alcor's dark humor, but I do. If a client's family can not pay a whole body suspension, we'll cut the head off and send the body back to you hahaha. I think if the Venturist Society is going to ask for donations they should first let people know what those donations are intended for. It's going to be interesting to see if other clients who aren't so well publicized if Alcor accepts them on a charitable case as well. To me this is just another cheap Alcor Ad.

      Nope. I wrote the article in response to a reader submission on Kim's case that unfortunately I couldn't use. During the process of fact checking the submission, I found out about the board's decision and decided it was newsworthy since at least one person had already expressed interest in Kim's story but did not know about this development.

      Natasha had nothing to do with the appearance of the story nor did I show it to her before I published it.

      However, Natasha is not just an advisor to Humanity+, she is the Chairman of the Board of Directors making her my boss which I disclosed in the article. I have no involvement with Alcor or cryonics beyond opinionated commentary on the subject, largely critical actually, and therefore this reply to my post is entirely projection on your part.

      It just didn't happen this way. Wrong.

    Nope. People were being mislead to believe they were donating to a fund that only required $28,000 with $5,000 in expense for Kim's transport to the Cryonics Institute. Now they've raised $45,000 from the last time I heard. The Venturist Society was not making anyone aware of Kim's prosuite for a more expensive cryonic preservation. Natasha being your boss pretty much explains it all. and your reply is just your projection of my post. As an editor you should get your facts straight. $45,000 is $17,000 more than required for the Cryonics Institute. Those funds should have either been refunded or used for the next hardship case not to sensationalize a girls suspension due to the publicity involved. Thank You, Shannon Blevins

      The story is an accurate report of the Alcor board's decision. I stand by the facts as reported in my story as regards to that decision.

      As far as sensationalizing this story, actually I was surprised to learn that it hadn't even been publicized or reported at all beyond a quiet blog posting on the Alcor site itself. No one in the transhumanist community seemed to know about it despite the large amount of attention generated by the fund raising efforts. It seemed other people might want to hear about this and that lead to my decision to do a brief story on it in H+.

        The Fundraiser was under the impression by the media that she was getting a whole body suspension for $28,000 all the news reports I've seen report this including the Discovery Channel. Alcor probably doesn't want them to know she's gonna get her head cut off. A neuro isn't a better suspension as a matter of fact the medical community would call that causing more harm than good. Cryonics Institute offers the same quality suspension at a much lower price and we do not believe in cutting people's head's off. I'm afraid of the fallout that could occur from cutting this woman's head off.

    Very glad she has her wish granted in the face of such a horrible illness. Hopefully everything will work out with Alcor taking her as a charity case, although I have a feeling they are doing it because they only had two suspensions this year. I also hope future charity cases will also be able to have their wishes for cryopreservation provided by some similar means from one of the organizations.

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