Today’s Longevity episode has Max More, president and CEO of Alcor Life Extension Foundation. Talking about cryogenics and the future of medical technology to bring back people from a cryonics state with Jason Hartman.

Key Takeaways

02:28 – It’s not currently possible to bring people back from being cryopreserved yet, but what has been brought back and used are frozen eggs, sperm, embryos and types of tissue, and as showed with 21st Century Medicine who had successfully cryopreserved a kidney and re-implanted back into a rabbit, it’s possible, just not there for people yet.

04:43 – One misconception people tend to have is, when a person is brought back from being cryopreserved is that they would still be the same age as when they were cryopreserved, but unless the aging process is reverse there won’t be much point to bring a person back, and that will require major advances in regenerative medicine and maybe nanomedicine.

06:34 – To cryopreserve patients one has to wait for declaration of legal death, which is unfortunate for people who have brain diseases like Alzheimer, that are gradually destroying their brains and as it’s against the law they can’t ask for lethal injection in able to be cryopreserve. The meaning of clinical death has change many times and will counties to do so in the future.

10:25 –  Judging by medical technologies, we might be waking up cryonics patients in a century.

11:56 – There appears to be re-interest in interstellar travel, organizations like NASA are starting to think about using cryonics for star traveling.

12:46 – Membership is lot less expensive than people think. Most of Alcor members pay their membership with life insurances.

14:32 –  Alcor Life Extension Foundation has been for forty years and they are always thinking on how to stay for an even longer terms. People can always know more about the facility and the company and it’s long history.

17:04 – Dewars are storage containers that store liquid nitrogen and patients. They do not run on electricity, no issues will arise if there is power outages.

19:15 – www.alcor.org/ for Alcor Foundation website and subscription to their monthly magazine. Looks like cryogenics is going more accepted in the near future.

Mentioned in this episode

Alcor Life Extension Foundation

21st Century Medicine

NASA

Tweetables

This ideal that death is a clear line to draw. Is clearly not true, it’s gets changed through out history.

It’s unlikely that waking up from cryonics state will take thousands years, If it’s going to take that long, it’s not going to happen. 

We are not reversing death here. Our view is these people are no more dead than someone in a deep coma, who’s potentially recoverable. 

Intro:

Welcome to The Longevity Show. Informing listeners on important aspects on health, wealth and happiness to insure you live life to its fullest with fascinating interviews with top authors and gurus of the field. Along with the latest news in the science and technology of longevity. We’re going to reveal expert advice and amazing secrets of living a longer, happier life. And now here’s your host Jason Hartman.

Jason Hartman:

It’s my pleasure Max More to the show. He is president and CEO of Alcor Life Extension Foundation located near me in Scottsdale, Arizona. And this is a fascinating topic, of course. We’ve see it in the science fiction movies. We know that someday this technology to wake a person up at the other end will be available most likely. And it’s a really fascinating thing to talk about. Max welcome, how are you?

Max More:

Hello Jason, I’m very good, thank you.

Jason:

It’s good to have you on the show. I guess, you just came back from the cryonics conference in Laughlin, Nevada. Is that correct?

Max:

That’s right. Yes, actually Don Laughlin who the town is named after, is one of our members, one of our public members, and a great supporter, he’s funded our research. And we just had a really good  conference there.

Jason:

When you call him a member? Does that mean? He will be a client, he will be frozen?

Max:

That is right. When I say member, I really mean someone who has made the full financial contract arrangements to be cryopreserved upon clinical death.

Jason:

Fascinating. We will talk about all the aspects of this. But the big question, I have is, we know it’s possible today to freeze a body or freeze a brain and preserve it indefinite, pretty much, however what is blocking us from waking that body wake up or bring it back, is it just the way water works? When something is frozen the molecular structural changes when it becomes ice? Is that what happen here? It’s not possible to do anything for the end yet, right? All of these members, as you say, are just banking on the ideal that it will be possible in the future, right?

Max:

Yes, it’s not possible currently to bring anybody back who’s being cryopreserve, although it’s not because the ice, so I will explain that. It’s worth pointing out that first of all that they’re quite a few people walking around this planet now, who were cryopreserved in the past, and those are people who started off as frozen embryos.

Jason:

Un huh, okay.

Max:

Yeah, we have frozen egg, and sperm, and embryos, and those are being cryopreserved at liquid nitrogen temperature, implanted, they grow up. We know we can do that, we know we have cryopreserved corneas and actually several dozen other tissue types that have been cryopreserved and reused. However, when you go up to the level of a more complex organ and even more so a whole organism, we can’t currently warm that up and restart function. That’s not though because of ice formation because that’s a problem we have address over the decades, and especially now we have a method called vitrification that essentially, at least in good cases, eliminates ice formation.

Part of our procedure is to remove as much of the blood and other body fluids as possible, so that they don’t freeze and replace them with a cryoprotectant, which you can think of as a kind of medical grade anti-freeze, if you would like. And as we lower temperatures that get down below about -120 degrees C that just be gets thicker and thicker, and forms a sort of glass like substance with no internal structural, no ice crystals. And so, it’s really not ice crystal formation that’s the problem.

By the way even if you do have ice, it doesn’t do what a lot of critics assume happens which is that the cells explode, that doesn’t actually happen, instead water leaves the cell and it cause damage to the membranes it’s a different issue. But the reason we can’t bring them back then is not ice damage, it’s really because a whole complex slews of processes happen when the body function become derange and leading to what we call clinical death, which is somewhat arbitrary point. Something else we might discuss a bit more.

Yeah, right now we can’t really do much with organs or that. We have successfully, well not us, but 21st Century Medicine in California has successfully cryopreserved a kidney and then rewarmed that, re-implanted in a rabbit and has it function successfully for months. We’re beginning to get to the level of doing whole organs, but we cannot yet bring back a whole organism, a person, wouldn’t even try at this point.

Jason:

Right, right. What has to happen in the technology in the future to bring someone back? What big barrier does science have to overcome?

Max:

There are a number of things we have to overcome, because one misconception people have is that, we’ll bring back someone say, someone who’s cryopreserved at the age of eighty-five, they come back as an eighty-five year old, that really isn’t the point [Laughs] we don’t want to do that.

Jason:

Well, eighty-five may be the new twenty-five [Laughs] when that happens, right?

Max:

Right. At least the ideal we wouldn’t bring people back until one of the problems has been solved. The big one is aging, aging itself has to be a problem that we’ve fix. There’s really no point in bring someone back, who’s already pretty old. Not all of our members are that old, because a person can die early of various things. But the ideal is we bring back someone when we have the kind of technology, there’s nanomedicine, more advanced regenerative medicine, whatever it takes to not only reverse whatever killed the person, heart disease or cancer, but the aging process itself. So, the person will come back in a young healthy body with a brain fully repaired and rejuvenated.

So, you really have a whole range of problems to solve, whatever kill the person, the aging processes itself, and you know we don’t want to age again when we come back. It’s going to require major advances in regenerative medicine, which we are beginning to see really taking off at this point, regrowing tissues and organs. We’ll need some pretty advanced repair methods perhaps nanomedicine. Nanorobots going into the brain repairing eighty to a hundred billions neurons that is no small task. That’s going to take decades at least, we don’t know how long it’s going to take, could be a century. But fortunately our patients are not going anywhere, liquid nitrogen temperature they could wait for millions years, and they would be pretty much in the same state as when they began.

Jason:

Yeah, fascinating stuff. Okay, talk about how the process works. People cannot decide to be frozen if they’re healthy and just decide, “Hey you know I want to check out and I just want to go into the future” that would be the equivalent of Jack Kevorkian by today’s standards, right?

Max:

That’s right, which is actually unfortunate because we do have some people in a really horrible situation, where they have say, Alzheimer disease, or have brain cancer, and just imagine if you have brain cancer you’re gradually being destroyed bit by bit, it’s pretty appalling, but the law does not allow you to ask your doctor to give you a lethal injection so you can be cryopreserved while you still somewhat intact. This is unfortunate, and I think that will eventually change, but for now, yes, it’s true, we have to wait until legal death has been declared. Legal death or clinical death is really not the same as biological death or kind of final death. Just think back, let’s say fifty, sixty years or so, walking around outside, somebody in front of you, kneels over and falls on the floor, you rush over and they’ve got no heart beat, no respiration, he would say, “Oh that person is dead” and that was it, they take him off and bury them. Today we don’t do that we pencil them, we do CPR, defibrillation, give them calcium channel blocking drugs, all kind of things and in many, many cases even the minutes of apparent clinical death, we can bring people back to life. In fact there have been some people who have been clinically dead for hours and been brought back to life, if they’ve remain cooled in the mean time.

This ideal that dead is some kind of clear line to draw, is clearly not true, it’s changed historically. Our view is that when today’s doctors of medicine say, “You’re dead clinically” what they really mean is, “Giving my skills, and methods, and technologies of today, there’s nothing more I can do for you.” not even that quite true because there are many cases where they could be revive temporarily, but they’re just going to be in misery and die again in a few minutes later, so it doesn’t even mean that.

So, we’re saying, “Well, give us a chance, we’re going to use our methods of cooling to very low temperatures to stop things getting worse, prevent any biological decay.” because we know that technology will  continue to advances and whatever kill that person today, probably won’t kill them in the future, and that could be undone. That’s what we’ve launch into action and in an ideal situation, we have warning we have a watch list for our members, we know if they have serious conditions, and in many cases we have a warning, we have our stand by team waiting there right at the bedside or very near by, and as soon as the doctor says, “I declare this person clinically dead.” within seconds we’re moving the patient from the bed into an ice bath, we’re restoring circulation using a device, which is essentially is like doing CPR but mechanically, restoring breathing, restoring all functions of the body by ministering a whole series of medication that reduce the damage that starts to happen right away. All that’s happening very fast, the removing the patient, who if was a local case here in Scottsdale, Arizona say in Hospice we would than put them in our emergency vehicle and bring them straight to Alcor. If it’s a remote case we’ll get them on flight and bring them here while they’re cooling.

And then we go to the next stage of the procedure in the operating room, where we do the cryoprotection, a surgeon will come in access the major blood vessels, remove as much of the body fluids, cause we want to reduce that ice formation to a minimum that accumulated, replace that with, what we call cryoprotectant, medical grade anti-freeze essentially. And then once that’s done we can drop the temperatures farther way below the freezing point after that, eventually ending up at -196 degrees C, -320 Fahrenheit liquid nitrogen temperature. Now that temperature you’ve essentially become a solid, there’s no biochemical activate you could wait for thousand years, and you’ll look pretty much exactly the way you were the day you went in. Then we hope the money we’ve put into patient care fund will be available to pay for repair should that become possible in the future.

Jason:

Is there any? Nobody knows, of course this is a totally prediction, but is there any thought as to when it will be possible to bring someone out of the cryogenic state?

Max:

Well, there’s a lot of thought [Laughs] in lot of–

Jason:

[Laughs] Of course, but what do you think?

Max:

nobody really knows, I actually have quite a background as forecasting methods and futurist methods, but Im very skeptical about the both to make any forecasts except in very narrow areas like computers.

Jason:

Are we talking a hundred years? A thousand years? It is mind boggling to think. And I know there have been movies about this, of course in the sci fi world. And if you can recommend any, please do, because I think that might be kind of interesting for our listeners, but just to see different directors and producers depiction of this world. But what would the world be like in thirty-two hundred? [Laughs]

Max:

[Laughs] I don’t think it’s highly unlikely that it will take a thousands years, I think if it’s going to take that long it’s not going to happen. I’m thinking, really a much of a guess, but looking at trends in regenerative medicine, biotechnology, nanotechnology. I think that most of our patients should be back withn a century. Optimists would say in thirty or forty years, I think that’s to me that seems unlikely, but I think possible because if change does accelerate as people like Ray Kurzweil like to argue, you know there will be more change in the next twenty years much more than the last twenty, but I would be very surprise if it took much more of that than about a century.

Jason:

Has your organization doing anything with say, NASA? Or anything like this? Working on the space travel, long distance space travel problem? Or thinking about that?

Max:

We are not currently doing that, but it seems that there some recent re-stirring of interest in interstellar travel. I’ve heard of, think at least three separate organizations that are restarting that. It used to be very popular in the seventies to think about this and then space kind of stop happening, but now it’s picking up again, and I think NASA and other organizations are actually starting to think about that. My wife is also a member of the foundation that is giving a talk at a panel at a space conference exactly on that topic. And Two Thousand and One: A Space Odyssey, Alien, many movies have used suspended animation of cryonics to get people into the star systems, cause it will take a very, very long time, many years and not to be board. So, that’s a possible application.

Jason:

Un huh, fascinating. What else should we know to about it?

Max:

I think one important thing is people think “My goodness, isn’t this only for really rich people? To do this?” and they ask, what do we charge to do this? And currently at the minimum rates for whole body cryopreservation is two-hundred thousand dollars, and for neuro preservation eighty-thousands dollars, that’s just the preservation of the brain, the ideal being any technology sufficiently advanced to repair damage done to you and fix the aging process is probably better clone or regenerate a body relativity easily. So, people say, “Eighty-thousand even two-hundred thousand that’s a lot of money.” what they often don’t realize is that the vast majority of our members pay that with life insurance, and especially  for young person the life insurance policy that amount is really not very much at all. It’s like having a cup of Starbucks coffee every couple of days. I actually started this when I was twenty-two years old in England, a poor student, not from a wealthy family, and I could afford that. We do have some wealthy members, but we have lots of people who’re certainly not. It’s really much less expensive than people realize.

Jason:

Yeah, very interesting. Okay, what else do we want to know? There’s a question I have. How does someone know that they can trust your organization to maintain them? It’s not just about whisking them out of the hospital when they are clinically declared dead and cooling the body, and doing all of that important stuff. But you’ve got to maintain this facility, and by the way, where is the facility? Is it in Scottsdale? Where the bodies are?

Max:

Yes, it’s in Scottsdale, or any of the Scottsdale airport.

Jason:

Okay, and you got to maintain this facility for decades, maybe centuries. Nothing lasts forever, not even Lehman Brothers, which was a hundred and fifty-eight year old company, by the way. [Laughs]

Max:

Right, but they’re also firm banking company, we’re not. It’s an excellent question. I should say first of all the Alcor Life Extension Foundation has been around now for forty years, we have a pretty good track record. But yeah, how do you survive four decades? Is a question we’ve thought a lot of time thinking about. First of all we are tax exempt non profitable organization and if you look around the walls of history and what the longest surviving organization tend to be universities, the catholic church, non profitable organization. That’s the structural we use, we also have very important when people pay us that two-hundred thousand for a whole body procedure. A hundred and fifteen of that, after we’ve paid the surgeon and done the procedures, and all the other things, all those expenses. One-hundred and fifteen thousand of that two-hundred goes into the patient care trust, and that’s a separately manage fund, has it’s own board of directors that we don’t control. And that money is use, the earnings on the money is use to pay for perpetually up keep of the patients, to pay for the liquid nitrogen deliveries, the direct cost of maintaining patients. And the ideal is that if we don’t draw more than a couple of percent a year on that, that should not only last forever, but actually increase over time that seventy-five eighty years from now, however long. If it does become possible to have a go at bring someone back to life. Reviving them then we’ll have the funds available for that.

So, we find very long term, we think about these risks, we don’t have risky investments cause we know that, if you try to put them in all into stocks, you’ll do really well in the long run, but will be run out in the mean time.

Jason:

Oh, listen you’re talking to someone who thinks Wall Street is totally scam. [Laughs] You’re not going to get my agreement there. [Laughs]

Max:

We think in the long term of securing our location, the physical security, financial security, the government. You saying how we can trust? People can come visit, we do tours twice a week, public tours. You can come see the facility, you can see the people who are here, you can see it’s a real thing, and has a long history. Our website has a huge amount of information that’s been building up through years. Pretty much all questions could be answered. You can see pictures and videos of what goes on here too.

Jason:

Yeah, fascinating stuff. How many, do you call them customers? Or patients? Or I guess they got to be very patient, right? [Laughs]

Max:

Yeah, they’re pretty patient, we don’t hear a lot of complaints. [Laughs] We have a hundred and seventeen patients as we call them, as we regard them as still potential living people. Hundred and seventeen we’re just short of a thousand members that is those people who have made full arrangements to be cryopreserve.

Jason:

Un huh. And there’s a hundred and seventeen there, and tell us about the storage. What does it look? What are the commendations if you will.

Max:

If you go to the patient care bay, you’ll see these very tall ten-four feet tall steel insulators called dewars and they’re essentially very large thermos bottles, if you would, insulation layers. You can touch the outside and they don’t feel cold, it’s just like thermal for your hot tea or soup. But inside we have four-hundred and fifty gallons of liquid nitrogen, and four whole body patients will fit in one of these very large containers. And we simply top that up once a week with liquid nitrogen. And we could actually go for six months with no deliveries, and we would still manage. Which is highly unlikely cause it’s pretty hard to cut off liquid nitrogen supplies, it’s used quite commonly. It’s pacifist process, one of those misconception is people say, “What if the power goes out” and I always laugh at that, cause like “Oh thank you so much. We’ve never thought of that after forty years”

Jason:

[Laughs] Yep.

Max:

We don’t actually use the electricity. It’s just a pacifist process of boiling off at -one ninety-six degrees C. We only use electricity for alarm systems, and other things that we can without.

Jason:

Have you any vandalism? Or threats of it? I would assume there would been a contingent of people out there that just might, you know kind of crazy, and there might be other contingent of people who believe you’re playing god. There got to be people that are critics of this.

Max:

Oh yeah, we have some pretty harsh critics, we get a couple of waves of them in the past. When we been accused of pretty awful things that we didn’t do, and we’ve had a couple of legal cases that we’ve won. People will believe bad things sometimes and we’ve had very nasty threats. But we haven’t actually really experience that kind of trouble. We do take it very seriously absolutely and plan for that, upgrading our security. But surprisingly most people dismiss it, don’t understand it, don’t really know how it works, and make fun of it, until they actually know more about it. But we don’t really, except for these unusual episodes, not a lot of real hostile. But if we’re going to be around for hundred years, we have to anticipate that could happen. We have planed for that.

Jason:

Sure, makes a lot of sense. Anything else? Give out your website. And any closing remarks? Anything else the people might wanna know? That I didn’t ask.

Max:

Okay yeah, website for the Alcor Foundation is just www.alcor.org/ and if your viewers are interested in this, they can write to us. We’ll be happy to get them on to a subscription list to our magazine, we have a very informative monthly magazine, should be free, and there’s just a tremendous of information, fact, essentially answers every question anybody’s every thought about for several decades.

Really this process emphasize, we are not reversing death here, because our view, these people are not really dead anymore than someone in a deep coma, who’s potentially recoverable. This is really extension of emergency medical, and I really believe that in a couple of decades, it’s going be gradual, this will eventually become mainstream. If you go to hospitals that do organ donations, for instance, a lot of what they do is very similar to what our initial process is. Where they start calling patients giving them resuscitate medications, extending the life of the organs, is really quite similar. So, I think that this will gradually become mainstream and is in fact becoming more and more accepted. When we deal with medical professionals they understand it a lot better now. So, I think this is the future, not too long from now people will look back on our time and say, “Were those people crazy? They were burying and burning their beloved ones, when they could have cryopreserved them, and give them a chance.” It’s not simple chance, but it’s a shot at least, we don’t know for sure it will work.

Jason:

Right, there’s an old saying, Max “No profit is ever revere in its own time.” Right? [Laughs]

Max:

Hopefully we can become, and in the future time as well. We have to get past that, before we–

Jason:

Absolutely, this is very fascinating. Keep doing what you do, it’s quite fascinating. And I think that’s a really interesting way to look at it. As just other part of  emergency medicine, all you’re doing is stabilizing the patient, if you will, until something can be found to help them in the future, right? That’s a good way to look at it. That’s Max More. Alcor Life Extension Foundation the website is www.alcor.org/. And Max thanks so much for joining us today.

Max:

Thank you Jason, I appreciate the opportunity.

Outro:

This show is produced by the Hartman Media Company, all rights reserved. For distribution or publication rights and media interviews, please visit www.hartmanmedia.com or email [email protected] Nothing on this show should be considered specific personal or professional advice. Please consult an appropriate tax, legal, real estate or business professional for individualized advice. Opinions of guests are their own and the host is acting on behalf of Platinum Properties Investor Network Inc. exclusively.

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