X-Message-Number: 7190
Date:  Thu, 21 Nov 96 12:41:52 
From: Steve Bridge <>
Subject: SCI.CRYONICS Cryonics and Organ Donation

To Cryonet
>From Steve Bridge, Alcor
November 21, 1996

In response to:   Message #7183
                  From: "James Yegerlehner" <>
                  Subject: Organ donor = good idea for cryonicists?
                  Date: 20 Nov 96 10:09:31 GMT
                  Newsgroups: sci.cryonics

> I understand that brain-dead accident victims are often times kept
> on  heart lung machines if they are organ donors, until the organs
> can  be  harvested.  Would it be possible to sign the organ
> donorship card, but somehow stipulate that the organs could only be
> harvested after the suspension folks had arrived (assuming of
> course one were signed up for suspension) and were prepared to
> start the suspension? I'd be interested to hear comments regarding
> whether this is legal, feasible, practical, etc, as a strategy to
> minimize brain ischemia in the event of accidental death.

     Ironically, one my articles for the 4th Quarter issue of Alcor's 
*Cryonics* magazine (behind schedule again because of computer 
equipment disasters, but nearly ready to go to print now) was an 
answer to this  very question.  Since it is fairly short, I will 
simply post it here. 

By Steve Bridge

     About once a week I am asked if a cryonicist, especially one who 
has chosen neurosuspension, can also donate organs for transplant.  
The  answer is a qualified "No."  There are several barriers, any one 
of which makes post-mortem organ donation impossible for cryonics 

     1.   Alcor's ability to provide reasonable preservation for a 
member's brain is strongly dependent on how fast our transport team 
can begin cooling the member and adding protective chemicals.  Forcing 
Alcor to wait several hours while surgeons remove a heart and kidneys is 
not good for your brain.  We assume you are involved in cryonics at all 
because you want your brain treated with utmost care.

     2.  All states require evidence of "brain death" before a 
hospital can remove organs from a donor.  "Brain death" typically 
means that the brain has had no circulation for 24 hours (*not* at 
all good for your brain) or has been obviously destroyed by injury.  
You don't want to wait for brain death before we freeze you.  Your 
brain is you. 

     3.  Even if you have chosen the neurosuspension option, Alcor's 
surgical team needs an intact vascular system, including the heart, 
to get cryoprotectants to the cells of your brain.  Removing organs 
puts holes in that system.

     4.  From the hospital's point of view, they don't want organs 
that have had Alcor's solutions pumped through them, even though 
these solutions may be very protective.  It would require hundreds of 
millions of dollars for research to prove that our particular 
combination of chemicals was safe and effective for transplants.  
It's not worth that.

     [I'll add one more comment here that was not in the article but 
fits Jim's specific question.  You *do not* want to sign the card 
that says you are an "organ donor."  Once you place yourself in that 
pigeonhole, it is very hard to make it clear to hospital personnel 
that, no, that "wasn't exactly what you meant."  And you probably 
won't even be in a condition to explain it yourself, remember.  
"Organ donor" may well lose you some parts and damage your brain 
before your cryonics company is even informed.   After that, a 
hospital response of, "Oops, we misunderstood," isn't terribly 

     It is is much better to inform your personal physicians and 
other hospital staff that you are a "whole body anatomical donor."  
That places you in the "medical school donor" pigeonhole and provides 
for much greater cooperation.]

Donations you CAN make

     Many prospective cryonicists wish to contribute something to the 
health of others and feel uneasy about not donating organs.  You can 
still help save many lives without causing problems for your 
suspension.  You can donate while you are *alive*.  I don't mean just 
giving a kidney to a relative, either, although that might very 
rarely be possible.  There is at least one organ donation nearly all 
of us can make -- *blood*.

     Donating blood is simple, can help save many lives, and can even 
be healthy for you.  Yes, recent research appears to show that men 
who donate blood at least three times per year increase their average 
life-span to that of women.  The most plausible theory for this is 
that iron accumulation in the blood is a primary cause of 
cardiovascular disease, and women have their own natural method of 
discarding iron -- every month when they menstruate.

     I hope none of our readers believe the idiotic, backwards 
folklore that donating blood can place you at risk for getting AIDS.  
Many people in the 1980's got AIDS from *receiving* blood 
transfusions; no one gets AIDS from giving blood.  (Detailed testing 
of blood today makes it extremely unlikely for a person to be 
infected with AIDS even by receiving a transfusion.)  

     If you are in a serious accident, you certainly want other 
people in the community to have donated blood to save your life.  It 
is only fair to put your share into the community pool to save other 
people's lives.  Look in the Yellow Pages under "Blood Banks."

     When you donate your blood, you could also add yourself to the 
list for *bone marrow donation*.  Thousands of people per year, 
especially with certain forms of leukemia, could have their lives 
saved by a donation of bone marrow from a tissue-compatible 
     Finding the level of compatibility required (near 100% for 
certain antigens) can be like searching for the proverbial needle in 
a haystack.  Right now several million people have their antigen 
signatures listed in the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) data 
base; but every year many people die without finding a match.  
Antigen matching is especially difficult in the United States, with 
the nearly infinite mix of racial and cultural backgrounds of our 
residents.  Adding your name to the NMDP Register could save a life.  
Making this effort as widespread as possible could also give *you* a 
chance at more life someday, should you be the one who gets the 

     To find out more about bone marrow donation, visit your local 
blood bank or call the NMDA at 1-800-627-7692.

     Cryonics is a way of saving your own life.  It is selfish -- and 
I mean that in a good way.  Understanding your own self interest is 
essential for survival.  Being selfish does not also mean that you 
can or should abandon your family and community.  Doing good for each 
other makes all of our lives better and contributes to our own 
individual survival.

Stephen Bridge, President ()

Alcor Life Extension Foundation
Non-profit cryonic suspension services since 1972.
7895 E. Acoma Dr., Suite 110, Scottsdale AZ 85260-6916
Phone (602) 922-9013  (800) 367-2228   FAX (602) 922-9027
 for general requests

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=7190