Cryonics — Suspending The Inevitable?

CyronicsNearly everyone has a fear of death, but there are some who refuse to accept its grip pulling them from the living world. There reasoning can range from beliefs in punishment in the afterlife for bad behavior, unfinished business, or simply a zest for being alive. Sometimes, atheists who feel that the time they have is all there is, may be reluctant to leave the world when their life ends. And then, there are those who suffer from illness or disease that modern medicine cannot resolve.

But, can anyone truly cheat death? Some people seem to think so. With hope for extending their existence on the planet, they turn to a highly controversial science called Cryonics. Many people may be familiar with the term only from the sensationalized headlines reporting on Walt Disney’s supposed freezing, which have been found to be untrue. But what, exactly is cryonics? Does the process begin before or after death? Let us have a look.

Simply put, cryonics is the low-temperature suspension of decomposition in human beings or animals immediately after death, with the hope of reviving the patient sometime in the future when medical technology will allow resuscitation and treatment of their terminal illness. Currently, there are about 200 people who have undergone the procedure and are presumably waiting for their future.

The theory in this field, holds that the human personality is maintained within the cells of the brain and can survive despite the absence of brain activity, superseding clinical death. Therefore, even if certain organs are no retrievable, the essence of the patient remains intact.

The practice of cryonic suspension has resulted in a myriad of moral, ethical and religious debates. In some religious traditions, such as Buddhist, the body must be allowed to return to earth to complete the cycle of life. If this is not allowed to happen, the deceased could suffer a spiritual stagnation on their journey after death. In Jewish burial practices, the body is not to be disturbed by embalming or the removal of organs and must be buried as soon as possible.

There also follows the dilemma of not allowing the opportunity for a public ceremony with the deceased, for loved-ones to express their grief and be given the chance to have one last goodbye and to begin the process of acceptance and healing. Many people have difficulty with letting go and can find it nearly impossible to do so without seeing physical proof that their loved-one has actually passed away. Imagine the strain of never having closure if someone you cared deeply for had passed, yet their body remained suspended, waiting for re-animation. Are they really dead? What if you should fall in love with someone new? Would you consider it cheating and feel guilt for it?

And then, there is the scientific debate over the merits of cryonics, mainly, can it even work? As of yet, there is no scientific proof that it does. No one has ever been resurrected from their frozen state. For many people in the medical and scientific world, cryonics is nothing more than theory at best. The scientific method based upon tests and proof and tests once more. It is understandable why the view on cryonics is less than positive.

Yet, science can often begin with an idea that, at first, may seems ludicrous to many. Given the fact that the human brain is not entirely understood, no one really knows what would happen to it, if it were to be re-awakened after death. The possibility of life is enough for some to pursue any chance for its extension no matter how far they must stretch.

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