A teenage girl who died of cancer has been cryogenically frozen so she can perhaps be brought back to life centuries from now, and a judge has agreed with her decision, the Telegraph is reporting. She is the first known British child to be cryogenically frozen.
Last month, the 14-year-old girl, identified only as “JS” because she was a minor, died after a brief battle with cancer. As she lay dying in the hospital, she told her mother that she wanted to be frozen so that, should medical science advance far enough that cancer can be cured and that cryogenically frozen people can be brought back to life, she may have the chance to live again — even if that takes place hundreds of years into the future.
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The girl’s divorced parents, however, didn’t see eye-to-eye on what would happen to the young lady after she died. Her mother, who had custody of her, agreed with her decision. Her father, who himself has cancer and whom she hadn’t seen in eight years, disagreed and refused to allow it. Specifically, he said that the process would likely result in failure, putting his daughter in a position where she dies under false hope. Even in the best-case scenario, he said, wherein medical science both cures cancer and is able to revive cryogenically frozen bodies, the girl will have no friends or relatives who have ever known her, and she will wake up into a world that is completely foreign to her.
The girl insisted that being cryogenically frozen was what she wanted.
“I think being cryo-preserved gives me a chance to be cured and woken up, even in hundreds of years’ time. I don’t want to be buried underground. I want to live and live longer and I think that in the future they might find a cure for my cancer and wake me up.”
Because the girl was a minor when she died, she was too young to legally write an enforceable will. So she appealed to the courts.
“I don’t want to die but I know I am going to…I want to live longer…I want to have this chance. I’m dying, but I’m going to come back again in 200 years.”
The judge in the case, Mr. Justice Peter Jackson, agreed with the girl and her mother. And just a few days before the girl died, the judge granted her wish. She has since been cryogenically frozen and her body sent to a storage facility in the United States.
Cryogenically freezing a body with the hopes of bringing it back to life later is, as of this writing, a process that relies on sound scientific principles mixed with huge doses of hope, the Brimingham Mail reports. The principle is already used in medicine; cryogenics technology is already used to preserve sperm, eggs, and even zygotes. But so far, medical science has yet to improve the process enough to freeze anything much larger, such as a kidney or heart. It is not believed, at present, that a whole human body can survive the process.
Cryogenically freezing a human body requires drawing out the water from human cells — ice crystals would kill them permanently — and filling the body with a type of human antifreeze solution. The body is then cooled to a temperature of around -166 Fahrenheit with liquid nitrogen, then cooled further over the next few weeks. Once the process is complete, the body is suspended in liquid nitrogen in a “patient care bay” until the day when they can possibly be revived.
The process can cost as much as $200,000, and there is no guarantee that it will work.
Still, the judge in JS’ case felt it only right to respect the girl’s wishes, even though the odds of her ever being brought back to life are exceedingly slim.
Do you think the judge was right to allow the teenage cancer victim to be cryogenically frozen?
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