By LUCY ORMONDE
Before she died, 23-year-old brain cancer patient Kim Suozzi, went on the internet and asked for help.
The neuroscience student had been diagnosed with a highly aggressive brain tumor in early 2011. By August 2012, Kim’s life expectancy has dramatically dropped. Doctors told her that she had less than six months to live.
Facing such a bleak prognosis, Kim began investigating into options to extend her life.
“I want to be cryogenically preserved when I die from brain cancer but can’t afford it,” Kim wrote on the social news site Reddit.
“I’ve been interested in cryonics since long before I was even diagnosed, but I never thought that I would have to secure the finances so fast, and without a career or savings to stand on. As weird as it feels to ask for help here, I feel I should just give it a shot and sees what happens.”
“I caused a lot of family controversy last week by breaking the news to my parents. I can tell I’ve alienated them quite a bit as they are Christian and don’t see why I’d want to be preserved; in their mind, I am going to heaven and my ‘soul’ will forever leave my body when I die anyway.”
Cryonic preservation involves freezing a person’s body in the hope that as medical technology advances, their body can be resurrected in the future and treated for their incurable illness.
The controversial process challenges how both people of faith and people of science think and feel about death.
Normally, it’s the kind of thing you think only exists in some kind of George-Lucas-meets-Blade-Runner-futuristic-type feature film. But the truth is that this process is becoming increasingly normalised and accessible for ordinary people.
More than 100 people have undergone the procedure at facilities in the USA since it started in 1962, including at least four Australians. This is from Fairfax:
A Western Australian man, Helmer Fredrikkson, was cryonically suspended in December, 1994, at the Detroit institute. His widow, Marta Sandberg, is also signed up for cryonics and believes she has a 50-50 chance of seeing her husband again – “When I wake up, I will have spent half my life without Helmer,” she says. “We’ll have to fall in love again. Isn’t that nice?”
When a person is cryonically preserved, their body is immersed in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -196°C. The process costs between US$70,000 for neuropreservation (just freezing a patient’s head) and $200,000 for a full body.
Kim Souzzi turned to Reddit readers for help because – as an ordinary uni student – she didn’t have the money for either procedure. This is the video Kim posted on YouTube in an effort to try and raise the money.
She describes cryonic preservation as “the last thing I can do to try and live a little longer…. I don’t want to die knowing that I could have done something more.”
Kim raised enough money through donations to cover the procedure. And when she died on January 17 this year, she was transported to a cryogenic preservation facility on the same day and her head was cryogenically frozen.
Following her death, Kim’s boyfriend released this statement:
Our hope is that technology will continue to progress to the point that Kim may have a real chance of living again in the future.
Since Kim is no longer with us to explore and innovate in the field of neuroscience, she is counting on all of us to push for the innovations she had hoped to see in her lifetime.
Until (or unless) the day comes that Kim can be brought back, remember her, celebrate her, and emulate her resilience, so we can create the future of her dreams. Nobody is too young to make cryopreservation arrangements.
It’s a controversial move and we’re keen to know your thoughts – about cyropreservation, about life after death, about what lengths you would go to to prolong your life.