AsianScientist (Apr. 28, 2015) – A two year-old girl has become the world’s youngest person to be cryogenically frozen and preserved for future revival. The remains of Matheryn Naovaratpong, who succumbed to brain cancer, were preserved by Alcor, an American company specializing in cryonics.
Cryonics aims to preserve a person who is unable to be helped by today’s medicine till an age where medical technology has advanced enough to restore that person to full health, according to Alcor.
Matheryn had suffered from ependymoblastoma, a rare form of brain cancer that affects children that has a five-year survival rate of 30 percent. Despite undergoing chemotheraphy and multiple surgeries, medical treatment was unable to cure her cancer and she succumbed to her illness. Her parents, both scientists, decided to cryogenically preserve her remains.
Cryonic preservation is the process whereby the patient is undergoes a series of procedures and freezing, following death. The deceased patient is firstly placed in an ice water bath, while blood circulation and breathing is artificially restored with a heart-lung resuscitator. Alcor notes that this procedure preserves the brain and protects it from injury.
The patient’s blood is then replaced with an organ preservation solution to prepare the patient for transport to Alcor’s main facility in Arizona. At the facility, the patient is then cooled under computer control by fans circulating nitrogen gas over three hours and to a further -196 °C over approximately two weeks. The patient is then stored under liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -196 °C.
It was initially planned for Matheryn to be flown to the United States while she was still alive for the procedure to be performed domestically, but her condition had deteriorated too quickly for that to be possible, according to an email correspondence between Motherboard and Aaron Drake, the Medical Response Director at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. Alcor thus flew Drake and Dr. Jose Kanshepolsky, a retired neurosurgeon, to Thailand to oversee the process.
Upon her death and due to the complexities arising from the tumor, Alcor decided to “undertake cryoprotective perfusion of Matheryn’s brain in Thailand,” Drake told Motherboard. It was initially a hurdle to transport Matheryn’s remains to the United States, due to regulations regarding the transport of human remains overseas. Matheryn’s remains were eventually flown to the United States after the paperwork was settled, where the rest of the procedure was performed.
Matheryn became Alcor’s 134th patient and the youngest person to be cryogenically frozen and preserved for future revival, according to Alcor. While cryonics has been a controversial issue, it still has its support amongst celebrities, such as baseball legend Ted Willams, who was also frozen by Alcor. For Alcor, this is a landmark case as it was the first time a field neuro cryoprotection had been performed in Asia and the company had not treated such a young patient prior to Matheryn.
Deep in a Dewar, a stainless steel, vacuum-insulated container filled with liquid nitrogen and kept at -196 ˚C, Matheryn’s remains are preserved in deep-freeze, till a day when science and advances in technology enable her to be revived.
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Motherboard.
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