Brain and Body

Two-Year-Old Cryonically Frozen in Hopes of Future Reincarnation

November 23, 2015 | Kelly Tatera

Photo credit: BBC/Youtube

This makes her the youngest person in history to be frozen.

Earlier in the year, a two-year-old Thai girl, nicknamed Einz, lost the battle to a rare type of brain cancer. Both of her parents are medical engineers, and they made an unusual decision to try and give Einz a second chance at life someday — they cryonically froze her brain just moments after her death in the hope that future breakthroughs in medical technology will one day bring Einz back to life.

To carry out the preservation of Einz’s brain, the family chose an Arizona-based non-profit organization called Alcor, a leading provider of “life extension” services. An Alcor employee flew to Thailand, and just minutes after the little girl’s death, started the process of “cryoprotection.” The bodily fluids are removed and replaced with forms of anti-freeze, allowing the body to be frozen without suffering large-scale tissue damage.

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In Einz’s case, instead of preserving her whole body, only her brain was preserved. After she was flown to Arizona, her brain was extracted. It’s currently being preserved at a temperature of -196 degrees Celsius (-320.8 degrees Fahrenheit).

However, Alcor’s own website says, that its operation is “an experiment in the most literal sense of the word.” But it insists that “real death” occurs only when a dying body shuts down and its chemicals become disorganized beyond repair by future medical technology. The scientists hope that innovations and medical breakthroughs will eventually find the way to save lives through cryonics.

Einz’s father told the BBC’s Jonathan Head that he and his family struggled with the decision, but he immediately knew that they should turn to science to try and help his little girl. Preserving Einz through cryonic technology seemed like the best way.

"As scientists we are 100 percent confident this will happen one day — we just don't know when," he told Head. "In the past we might have thought it would take 400 to 500 years, but right now we can imagine it might be possible in just 30 years."

When you look at it as freezing a two-year-old’s brain, the decision seems extremely brutal, but the parents say they made the decision with pure love for their child. They believe that Einz’s personality and thoughts will also be preserved with her brain at Alcor.

The parents have generously donated to cancer research in Thailand and also plan to have their own bodies cryonically preserved. As medical engineers themselves, they have high hopes that innovations in medicine and technology will bring about a new era of reincarnation.

"It was our love for her that pushed us towards this dream of science", the girl’s father told Head. "Surely our society is moving towards a new kind of thinking that can accept this."

Also, just for the record, Walt Disney is not cryonically frozen. This urban legend just won’t seem to die. Disney was actually cremated two days after he died of lung cancer, but the rumor likely got started because Disney expressed interest in the new technology.

“The truth is, Walt missed out,” said Bob Nelson, the former president of the Cryonics Society of California, according to Mental Floss. “He never specified it in writing, and when he died the family didn’t go for it. ... Two weeks later we froze the first man. If Disney had been the first it would have made headlines around the world and been a real shot in the arm for cryonics.”

Perhaps this little girl’s case will make headlines around the world, filling in for the lost opportunity of Disney. And who knows, maybe one day we’ll see the field of cryonic technology rise to success. What a day that would be.


Editor's note (February 12): The techniques in this article were originally refered to as both cryogenics and cryonics. Cryogenics is unrelated to the practice of freezing bodies. We appologise for any confusion this may have caused.

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