X-Message-Number: 3247
Date: 11 Oct 94 22:36:53 EDT
From: Mike Darwin <>
Subject: SCI.CRYONICS lies, inneuendo and cryonet message 1627

The following is an edited test of the reply to Dave Pizer and Keith Henson
which I posted in January of 1992.  The reader may draw his or her own
conclusions about why it is necessary to post the relevant parts of it again
Before reprinting my post I wish to add the following points:

1) Curtis Henderson and to a lesser extent Saul Kent, personally paid for almost
of all of Steven Mandel's cryopreservation costs.  Curtis often paid
(personally) the liquid nitrogen bills of other patients including Ann DeBlasio
(Nick was often late or not forthcoming with payment).

2)  Mandel and DeBlasio were removed from Cryo Span's care against the advice of
Curtis Henderson (Saul was not around at that time). In the case of Nick
DeBlasio (Ann's husband) I also gave him very good advice which he chose to
ignore.  Some of that advice was given in the presence of Carlos Mondragon in
Carlos' New York apartment!!! (This was after the FIRST time Nick had let Ann
thaw out).

3) During the entire period of operatuion of CSNY and Cryo Span no patient was
ever allowed to thaw out.  

4) During that period in cryonics there was tremendous emphasis on getting
patients frozen.  Indeed, Bob Ettinger was among those advocating and assisting
with this policy.  He asssisted on several occassions by loaning equipment and
chemicals and even flew to Iowa to bring DMSO and assist with the
cryopreservation of Mildred Harris.  I bring this up not to criticize Bob or
anyone else, but rather to point out that these were the standards of the time.
Indeed, Bob even helped in circulating pleas for financial support for unfunded
frozen patients such as Marie Phelps Sweet.

5) Dave Pizer, Steve Bridge and Mike Perry are all intimately aware of these and

the other circumstances surrounding the termination of the care of the CSNY/Cryo
Span patients.  In Dave's case his behavior may be attributed to malice and/or

stupidity.  The silence of Bridge, Perry and others is more difficult to explain
since I believe that they know full well that there was not only no malfeasance
involved in the termination of these patients' care, but rather that their care
would not have continued as long as it did or have been initiated in the first
place if not for the efforts of Curtis Henderson and Saul Kent.  Their silence
is in itself unspeakable.

6)  Speaking of Ponzi rackets, the cost structure of all existing cryonics
organizations leaves much to be desired in terms of accounting for inflatiobn,
cost increases and other contingencies.  Alcor's recent abandonment of the 10%
rule does nothing to reinforce my doubts in this areas where their operation is

7) Finally (before proceeding to my prior posting) I find it ironic that Dave
should make the charges he does when Alcor has, by understanding the following

a) Two neuropatients with essentially no funding (except that obtained through
the 10% rule): A-1057 and A-1056

b) One neuropatient on whom the insurance did not pay off due (reportedly) to
fraud by the client and thus who has little if any funding.

c) Patient A-1165 who came in at well below the usual minimum of funding.

d) A whole body patient A-1142 who has essentially no long term funding (charity

e) Patient A-1410 whose cost of suspension exceeded revenues taken in by I
understand approximately 15K.

f) A neuropatient who committed suicide without adequate insurance funding and
who is also underfunded (amount not known).

That means that of Alcor's 27 patients, 7 are being subsidized by the others or
by the general operating fund (other members).  I participated in and advocated

the acceptance of some of these un and underfunded patients and I still think it
was a good thing to do in those cases.

My point here is that people in glass houses should not throw stones and that,
if the issue of care and funding is to be fairly discussed, it should be noted
that a good hunk of the cost of caring for those 7 patients is being borne by
Alcor members both living and in suspension.  And that is a big hunk of cash

So, in some ways, nothing has changed in 25 years:

Date: 15 January, 1992

...I must also state here that this account has been written from my own 
memory and without consultation with Saul Kent or anyone else.

     I want to make clear from the outset that when Pizer says "I  believe 
people  would  like answers to these questions, (sic about the  loss  of  7

CSNY/Cryo-Span  suspension patients) NOT to humiliate you, but to  try  to 
know  if  you  have  learned from previous disasters"  he  is  asking  the 
"questions"  in  a loaded, prejudicial manner with the  clear  implication 
that there was wrongdoing on Saul's part.  This would be obvious to anyone 
who  has had a high school debate class. Further, if such a question  were 
asked in that fashion in any blue-collar bar the interrogator would *know* 
his  error  once he recovered consciousness and emptied his mouth  of  his 

     The story of CSNY and Cryo-Span is an interesting one, a tragic  one, 
and one from which there is much to learn.  Unfortunately, it is the Board 
of  Directors  of  Alcor and some of its staff which needs  to  learn  the 
lessons this story has to teach, not Saul Kent.

     To tell this story I must take you back to another era very different 
from the one cryonics is now in.  It was a time when NO ONE was interested 
in cryonics but a tiny handful of people.  There were perhaps 30 SERIOUSLY 
INTERESTED  PEOPLE  IN THE WORLD.  There was a great deal  of  superficial 
media interest, but little serious interest.

     Curtis Henderson, Saul Kent, an attorney named Richard Vingello and a 
small  group  of  local  investors formed  Cryo-Span  to  deliver  cryonic 
suspension  services  to the Cryonics Society of New York. Within  a  very 
short  period  of  time -- from July 1968 to May of 1970 --  five  of  the 
"seven"  patients  Dave  alleges  were "lost"  were  placed  into  cryonic 

suspension  via CSNY and Cryo-Span.  During this period  Curtis  Henderson 
was  running Cryo-Span on a day-to-day basis and  Saul's  responsibilities 
were largely to remain employed, funnel significant amounts of his  income 
into putting out the CSNY newsletter *Cryonics Reports* which he paid  for 
out  of his own pocket often as not, and carry an enormous  administrative 

     This  burden consisted of answering all information  requests  (there 
were  many  at  that  time),  carrying  on  an  extensive  correspondence, 
organizing meetings, and trying to get improved support from members.  His 
efficiency  at this was legend.  I am a testimony to both  his  efficiency 
and  his thoroughness.  I got my information packet from CSNY a  few  days 
after I wrote, and Saul began a correspondence with a 12-year-old boy that 
lasted  nearly a decade.  I assure you I was treated no  differently  than 
hundreds of others.  While Saul handled much of the administrative  burden 
and tried to get improved membership and support for cryonics, Curtis took 
care of the patients.

     It  should  be remembered that this was a different era in  terms  of 
printing and that the desk-top publishing industry was not even a gleam in 
Steve  Jobs'  eye.   Printing  *Cryonics Reports*  and  producing  it  was 
extremely costly and time-consuming.  Indeed, most magazines of that  size 
and quality would have a paid, full-time staff of 1-2 people.  The cost of 
typesetting  and  printing the magazine ran into the hundreds  of  dollars 
every  month (1968 dollars!).  Saul absorbed most of this cost  and  spent 
all  of the time required.  For this he was paid nothing and for  this  he 
was reviled by a small but vocal segment of the cryonics community at that 
time (nothing has changed in 25 years).

     Meanwhile  CSNY  had  frozen  five  patients.  It  is  important   to 
understand several things about these suspensions:

1)  All were initiated by the next-of-kin after the patient's legal death.

2) All upkeep was paid for on a year-by-year basis by next-of-kin.

3)   In several cases little or no money was paid and  the  responsibility 
for  caring for these patients was borne largely by Curtis  Henderson  and 

     While  the  idea of trust funds for long term care  of  patients  was 
around  from the beginning (see Ettinger's *The Prospect of  Immortality*) 
no  one  really  knew what the costs would be in any  realistic  way.   It 
turned  out  that even if the first patients had provided  long-term  care 
trusts in the amounts then recommended, they still would have been grossly 
inadequate.   Cryonics was simply too new with simply too many  unforeseen 

     I have heard through Mike Perry that Pizer is privately stating  that 
"Saul  should  have known better than to freeze people  without  long-term 
funding  after  they  froze the first person or two."   Easily  said  now. 

However,  as  I have been at pains to point out, five of  Pizer's  "seven" 
were  suspended in roughly a two year period.  This gave little  time  for 
feedback.   And there were precious few people to receive  such  feedback. 

Cryo-Span  consisted  of essentially two active people: Curtis  and  Saul. 

The cryonics community as a whole was an isolated and fragmented group  of 
individuals  held  together  largely by letter writing via  the  US  mail. 

Indeed,  if  there  were  two cryonicists in  any  given  area,  this  was 
remarkable, and such individuals were considered lucky beyond words.   You 
have  no idea of the loneliness and the isolation we felt.  There  was  NO 
ONE who thought what we were doing was rational and we had almost no  luck 
whatsoever in persuading others to join us.  It was a terrible time.

     What no one anticipated was the magnitude of the burden of caring for 
these  patients.   A business, any business, requires a  great  number  of 
things:   paying  bills,  maintaining  insurance,   invoicing   customers, 
preparing tax forms, cleaning and maintaining the equipment and  premises.
In  short, an enormous amount of overhead much of which exists  regardless 
of  whether  the business is small or large, profitable  or  unprofitable. 

Curtis  and Saul were faced with running such a business with  essentially 
two  or three customers at any one time, most of whom could not afford  to 
pay  for the real costs of the service.  Of course Curtis and  Saul  could 
have  thawed  the  patients out right then and  there.   But  they  didn't 
because they were hostages to their decency and loyalty tothe patients and 
because  they, like the rest of us, JUST COULDN'T BELIEVE THINGS  WOULDN'T 
got worse.

     A  cryonics business (at least as soon as you have patients  to  care 
for) carries with it another kind of overhead and that is maintaining  the 
patients.   This becomes a problem only if you work during the  day  since 
liquid  nitrogen  is only delivered during business hours  and  then  only 
WITHOUT an appointment (sometimes, if you are lucky they will tell you  if 
they  can make it in the A.M. or the P.M., but don't count on  it).   This 
means that if you have a day job, you will soon LOSE it.  This happened to 
Curtis Henderson (and Cryo-Span was NOT a profitable operation that  could 
pay  him a salary!). Indeed, Cryo-Span *consumed*  rather  than  generated 
capital. (Later Curtis solved the LN2 problem in part by going to pick  it 
up himself: but he still had to do it during business hours.)

     I  know about all this for two reasons: First, when I was 16  I  went 
out  to  Long  Island and spent a good hunk of my  summer  vacation  there 
living with Curtis and his family and "working" in the Cryo-Span facility. 

Second, I am one of the few men alive who started a cryonics facility  and 
spent those long days waiting for the LN2 truck to pull up.

     What very soon happened was that some of the patient's relatives quit 
paying, payed only sporadically, or argued, bitched, and moaned beyond any 
possible comprehension.   These ravings were unequalled in cryonics  until 
recently.  For those who wish to appreciate their flavor you have only  to 
look  at  what  has  been posted on this net in the  last  few  months  to 
appreciate  the sheer mean-spiritedness and gross stupidity. that went  on 
at that time. 

     In  some ways the two situations are very close and the  ironies  are 
not  lost on me: the cast of characters was much like it is now.   Perhaps 
cryonics  attracts  such  ilk out of proportion: more  likely  it  is  the 
phenomenon  of the "crud rising to the top."   By this I mean that  people 
willing  to  take responsible positions in cryonics are often   the  least 
qualified  to  do so.  However, those better qualified to,  i.e.,  stable, 
nonsociopathic  individuals with sound judgment have too much to lose  and 
are  unwilling to work for so little remuneration.  There  are  occasional 
exceptions  to this: quality individuals with courage and  commitment  who 
will make sacrifices in taking positions of responsibility. But damn  few. 

The result?  The crud rises to the top.

     Why were the relatives unhappy?  Why were they unable or unwilling to 
pay?  The unhappiness is the most difficult to explain.  However, since  I 
interacted  with  many of these people I feel I am in a good  posirion  to 
understand  it.   

     Several  of these people were what might tastefully be  described  as 
far  out  on  a  limb  of the bell shaped curve  of  normal  in  terms  of 
socialization; this is to be expected in the early days of something  like 
cryonics.   Several  of  the  relatives  placed  their  "loved"  ones   in 
suspension  to  "make  up" for a lifetime of  manipulative  abuse,  making 
amends for which, had become complicated by death.  How fortunate cryonics 
was  for these people: now they had a fresh pool of people to  heap  abuse 
upon.  Nick DeBlasio was a case in point; a former New York cop with an IQ 
of  about  80, a bluster, wear 'em down with argument  (rational  or  not) 
mentality,  (sound like anyone else we know?) and a gun which he  used  to 
threaten  hospital officials with (and anyone else he disliked, which  was 
to  say  nearly everyone).  Pauline Mandel was a female  version  of  Nick 
(minus the gun) -- in fact they were engaged to each other at one point! 

     And  of course there were relatives like the Halpert/Dastals who  had 
absolutely  no  interest  in cryonics at all and  thought  it  was  nutty, 
disgusting  thing.   Since cryonics was small,  totally  impoverished  and 
completely  defenseless at that time these people could do a lot  of  harm 
and believe me, they knew it and lost no opportunity to do so.

     Complicating  the  matter  was  that no  one   had  any  money.   The 
relatives of most of the patients were largely working class people.   And 
yet  the bills had to be paid.  But perhaps the real reason for a  lot  of 
the  acrimony was the complete and utter failure of expectations.   NOBODY 
EXPECTED CRYONICS WOULD TURN OUT THAT WAY.  You see, it wasn't supposed to 
happen  like  that.   It  was supposed to catch  on,  big  companies  were 
supposed  to get involved.  There were supposed to be economies of  scale. 

The  pioneers  and their families were supposed to be looked  up  to,  not 
laughed at.  Cryonics facilities were supposed to be gleaming, and  solid, 
and  staffed  by  technically sophisticated people; not  be  dirty  little 
industrial  bays with a man bleeding himself to death trying to take  care 
of the patients.  It wasn't supposed to be like that!  And everybody  felt 
cheated,  and everybody was MAD.  I know, because when I found out how  IT 
REALLY WAS I felt cheated, and I felt angry.  BUT I DIDN'T TAKE IT OUT  ON 
CURTIS  HENDERSON  OR  SAUL  KENT.  These then are  the  reasons  for  the 
situation unfolding as it did.

     But what actually happened to the patients Dave alleges that CSNY and 
Cryo-Span lost?:

Steven  Mandel:  24  year old aeronautical  engineering  student  who  had 
started to sign-up with CSNY when he died of chronic enteritis on 28 July, 
1968.   Mandel  had purchased a New York Life policy and had lied  to  the 
company about his health: he was already in the final stages of  enteritis 
when he procured the policy and he died a few weeks later during  surgery. 

New York Life quite justifiably refused to pay.  Pauline Mandel  (Steven's 
mother) proceeded with his suspension.  CSNY never collected any money for 
the  dewar Steven was placed in, and collected only a few hundred  dollars 
for  liquid nitrogen bills.  *Sometime around 1974 Steven was  allowed  to 
thaw  out  and  decompose by Robert F. Nelson to whose care  HE  HAD  BEEN 

Andrew  Mihok:  a  middle aged heart attack victim  who  was  placed  into 
suspension briefly by his wife.  Mihok was in suspension only a matter  of 
hours  before  it became apparent that this was not something  the  family 
could afford, and that further, the wife was not adequately informed about 
the risks and benefits of cryonics.  CSNY acted in this case only  because 
there  was  no time to lose since the patient was already  "down."   *Both 
CSNY   and  Mrs.  Mihok  agreed  that  proceeding  beyond  dry   ice   was 
inappropriate  -- indeed this patient probably never even reached dry  ice 

Ann  DeBlasio: a 43 year-old breast cancer victim whose husband  Nick  had 
her  placed  into suspension.  *Nick DeBlasio, acting on advice  from  and 
with  the help of Robert F. Nelson removed Ann from Cryo-Span's  care  and 
placed her in a facility operated by himself and Nelson.  Ann was  allowed 
to  thaw out and decompose (along with another woman Nelson placed in  the 
dewar  with  her) in the summer of 1980.*  I am intimately  familiar  with 
this case since it was a colleague and I who removed Mrs. DeBlasio and her 
companion,  badly decomposed and *in pieces* from this unit.  I  did  this 
primarily to save cryonics the scandal.  It was one of the most unpleasant 
experiences of my life.

Paul M. Hurst, Sr.: a 62 year old man placed into suspension by his son (a 
psychology professor) Paul Hurst, Jr.  I never met Paul Hurst, Jr., but by 
all  accounts he was a very pleasant and fair man who paid his  bills  and 
discharged  his obligations well.  Around 1974 Mr. Hurst, Jr.  decided  to 
move  to Australia and his financial situation was such that he  could  no 
longer care for his father. *As his father had been suspended only after a 
lengthy  delay  and  had been embalmed prior to  suspension  as  well,  he 
decided  to discontinue the suspension and had his  father  conventionally 

Herman Greenberg: a 51 year-old accountant who was placed into  suspension 
by  his  daughter  Gillian  Cummings in May  of  1970.   *Mr.  Greenberg's 
suspension  terminated when his wife ordered his removal  from  suspension 
after the death of their daughter in the Cryo-Span facility where she  was 
living  in  her car.*  It should be noted that Gillian was living  in  the 
facility  and working on an ice cream truck to make enough money  to  keep 
the  liquid nitrogen bills paid and her father and the other  patients  at 
the facility frozen.

     There  are  two other patients which Cryo-Span or its  personnel  had 
some degree of involvement with.  However, one of these patients was never 
cared for by Cryo-Span: 

Clara  Dastal:  a  60 year-old woman who I was  in  part  responsible  for 
suspending.  Thus, I take Dave's charge that we were in some way mistaken, 
immoral, or wrong  in continuing to suspend people quite personally  since 
Clara is one of Dave's "seven."  Mrs. Dastal was the exception to all  the 
rest.   She  was a CSNY member with fully executed paperwork and  a  trust 
fund  established to pay for her care.  Failure to suspend her would  have 
exposed  CSNY to enormous civil liability and would have been  immoral  in 
the  bargain.  Following her suspension Mrs. Dastal's two loving  children 
went  to  court,  broke  her trust, and obtained a  court  order  for  her 
interment.  However, they did the latter only after first listening to Bob 
Nelson  tell them that they were being "gouged and ripped-off"  by  Curtis 
Henderson and that they could store their mother cheaper with him.   After 
receiving  payment  of $2000, Nelson absconded with the  money  and  never 
picked Clara up from CSNY.  The Dastals, (Claire Halpert her daughter, and 
Richard  Dastal  her  son) gentle folks that they were,  hired  a  private 
detective,  went  after  Nelson  with a  vengeance,  and  in  the  process 
uncovered  the  Chatsworth  disaster and exposed  Nelson  for  the  lying, 
murderous fraud that he was.

Michael  Baburka:   I understand that Mr. Buburka was  dead  several  days 
before he was found in the New York subway and that he had been autopsied. 
Mr.  Buburka  was  placed  into suspension by  his  son  circa  1980  with 
assistance  from Curtis Henderson.  He was stored in a  miniwharehouse  by 
the  son  *until  the authorities were called to the site  and  found  his 
decomposing body in the dewar.  Saul Kent had long left the New York  area 
before  this  suspension was undertaken and both CSNY and  Cryo-Span  were 
defunct  by this time.  Indeed, as I recall, Saul knew nothing about  this 
suspension until long after it had happened.  Curtis became involved  only 
because of the desperation of the son.

     Now  let us return to Dave's accusations by innuendo.  First, as  can 
be seen from the above, neither Cryo-Span nor CSNY EVER lost any patients. 

Patients were removed from their care in every instance by the next-of-kin 
who  had  either  placed them into suspension or who had  full  legal  and 
financial  control over them.  Furthermore, it is my expert  opinion  that 
NONE  of these patients  would have been placed into suspension  if  large 
amounts of up-front money had been required.  And, what is more, even if a 
trust  fund had existed to care for one or two of these patients it  would 
have  had  to have been large enough to have provided for operation  of  a 
completely dedicated facility, i.e., a facility operated to care for  that 
patient and that patient alone since the pool of patients rapidly dwindled 
to  one or two with enormous overhead costs accruing to those one  or  two 

     Keep in mind also that there was a long period of time where the ONLY 
reliable  storage facility was the Cryo-Span facility.   Californians  and 
others relying on Nelson were living in a fool's paradise at this time.

     During the period of time that Cryo-Span operated its facility  there 
was  an  unrelenting  and bitter series of attacks  from  Nelson  and  his 
associates  accusing  CSNY and Cryo-Span of, of  all  things,  *substandard

cryogenic  care* (all the while Nelson's patients ROTTED).  I  spoke  with 
Curtis Henderson and Saul about this several times and I was told:  "there 
are  many and serious problems here, please come out and see for  yourself 
what we are up against."  *I did so*, in sharp contrast to the dozen or so 
others  who were content to sit on their asses and throw  around  innuendo 
and lies about situations they knew NOTHING about.  I was 16 years old  at 
the  time and I had to work my tail off cleaning garbage off plates for  a 
summer at the Indianapolis Convention Center to save the air fare.  What I 
found  was a gritty operation being maintained by a man in the  throes  of 
serious  alcoholism.   A  man  who,  with  almost  superhuman  will,   had 
sacrificed everything: his family, his savings, his job, and his health to 
keep those patients in suspension.

     During  my summer in New York I saw Curtis Henderson come  home  from 
the  night  shift at Sonic (the people who made the  K-Tell  records  once 
advertised extensively on TV) where he held a job working under conditions 
so full of hazards and toxic chemicals there are no words to describe  it, 
get  up a few hours later, and take care of the patients.  I saw him  come 
home  with  a broken arm one Friday, rest for a few hours  and  then  drag 
himself through the routine of getting liquid nitrogen before attending to 
himself.   I saw him care for those patients using his own money --  money 
that should have been spent providing for the basic needs of his wife  and 
children.   I  cannot tell you the rage I feel when  confronted  with  the 
filth  pouring  out of the mouth of a creature of  Dave  Pizer's  stature. 
Filth couched in the language of friendship, fairness, and gentility.

     I have known Dave Pizer for nearly a decade and worked alongside  him 
as  a  Director of Alcor (a position I opposed him having).   During  that 
interval   I  came  to  expect  as  routine  outright  falsehoods,   gross 
distortions,  and critical omissions of information in  my  communications 
with  him.   I  suffered  through his defense of  Robert  Nelson  and  his 
publication of an "exhonerating" series of interviews with Nelson.  I have 
long  questioned his intelligence and now I must question  his  integrity. 

You will note that of the patients "lost" by CSNY listed above,  DeBlasio, 
Dastal,  and  Mandel were lost with the help not of Curtis  Henderson  and 
Saul Kent, but rather with help so generously provided by Robert F. Nelson 
who  Mr. Pizer has repeatedly defended not only to me, but to many  others 
in the cryonics community.

     Earlier I spoke of what was to be learned from the CSNY and Cryo-Span 
experience.  Much was learned by that brooding, high strung lad who  spent 
his  summer on Long Island at Curtis Henderson's elbow and  his  Christmas 
vacation from his Junior year in high school perfusing Clara Dastal.  Much 
of  what I learned became engraved in stone (or hopefully so)  when  Alcor 
was created.  Not accepting patients on a year-to-year basis, the 10% Rule 
to  cover  inflation, increased costs, and the cost  of  reanimation,  the 
importance  of utter honesty in communications with clients, the  absolute 
primacy   of   technical  and  scientific  excellence   over   any   other 

     Alcor  could  learn  much from  the  CSNY/Cryo-Span  experience.  Its 
Directors and key staffers could learn to be honest about the shortcomings 
and  deficiencies of Alcor's suspension program as they perceive them.  It 
is  not necessary that they agree with anyone else's assessments  --  only 
that they be honest about the ones in their own hearts instead of lying to 
themselves  and others.  For as bad as things were at CSNY,  neither  Saul 
Kent  nor Curtis Henderson ever tried to hide them, not from me, not  from 
anyone, not for one moment.  Indeed, if I learned my  supposedly  tactless 
and  ruthless  honesty about such matters from anyone it was  from  Curtis 
Henderson  whom  I  wish  to publicly thank for  that  most  precious  and 
painful of gifts.

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=3247