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The 47th patient of KrioRus

Can the human brain be cryonized after autopsy? Our clients occasionally ask this question. Here is the answer from scientists in cryobiology and cryonics specialists: yes, it can, and it should.

Of course in the future we want to raise the level of cryonics to the level, when it would always be possible to perform ideal cryonization procedures with the help of the perfected technology, which corresponds to the newest technological developments, and without losing even a second of time.

But today’s reality is such that we are forced, for the reasons that do no depend on us, to lose time at all stages: from relatives’ letting us know about the death of a potential cryopatient to the moment of the end of perfusion. It is not always possible to find good specialists, but there are also other difficulties. Now the biggest obstacles to the development of cryonics is the difficulty of organizing this process, especially when it takes place outside of Moscow, in provincial regions, where there are no cryonics centers with good specialists.

At the same time, successful prompt operations do happen. This is what happened on October 29, 2015, when a person who lived 200 km from Moscow, was supposed to be autopsied in accordance with the law, and the autopsist did it in quite a short period after death. And only after this, the relatives urgently got in touch with us and asked us to cryonize his brain.

What I am going to say now will probably shock many, but the brain is usually removed during autopsy. It can be cut into several parts, according to the protocol, and then the brain is sewn into the stomach of the deceased. This is a standard autopsy procedure in Russia [ССЫЛКА]. The thing is when the brain is removed from the head cavity, it is very difficult to put it back. That is why it is easier for autopsists to place it in the stomach of the diseased.

It needs to be pointed out that if the autopsy took place in a cool room (which happens quite often in morgues), then during autopsy of the head cavity, the brain starts to cool down faster compared to the cooling down of the body in a cold room.  The head cavity prevents the penetration of cold air, which often happens to circulate in morgues, into the body. That is if the head cavity is being autopsied, the cooling takes place faster. The latter has a positive effect for brain preservation.

It is often asked: “But how can this work, if, during autopsy, the brain has been studied and cut?!” We can say that, as a rule, as far as we have seen, the brain is not cut into small pieces. Sometimes it is just a cut in the center, where the left and the right hemispheres connect. Sometimes there are one or two thin cuts in places, which the autopsist deems worthy of attention. On the whole, the rules of autopsy is to try to avoid unnecessary cuts.

As we know, the brain cortex—the neocortex—is the place, where our higher nervous activity takes place, and where much of our personality is stored.

Let’s see what percentage of neurons could die during the cutting of the brain. If you look at the entire surface area of the neocortex and compare it to the area, which could have died from the touch of a scalpel, then the latter might constitute perhaps one thousandth of a percent, because the cortex area of one hemisphere of an adult human is on average 220,000 square millimeters.

Even taking this into account, one can understand that it still makes sense to preserve a human brain, which, for one or another reason, had been autopsied, because autopsy per se does not cause any additional significant damage to the brain. Besides, if there were no special, cryonic cooling of the body and if autopsy took place in a cool room, sometimes autopsy could be a blessing, because the cooling of the brain happens faster in this case. If the brain is placed in a cryoprotectant solution rather quickly afterwards (and in this kind of cryonizing we are, of course, speaking about diffuse cryoprotection, when the brain itself is placed in the cryoprotectant solution), then the cryoprotector solution has immediate contact with the cortex, which provides for the depth and speed of its penetration.

Therefore the opinion of cryonics supporters, who want to preserve the personality of a person, the structure of the brain, is, in this case, unanimous: if the brain removal after autopsy and the cooling can be done quickly, then the human brain can and should be cryonized after autopsy.

This is exactly what happened at the end of October 2015. We would like to say that our reaction was quick, despite the fact that the cryonizing procedure took place in one of the Russian regions outside Moscow. As fast as four hours after the final agreement of the relatives, our team started working, and two hours later the brain was already in the cryoprotectant solution, and then it was transported by car to our cryonics facilities.

Remarkably, a beautiful elderly woman, who, by the way, like many of our like-minded colleagues, was in the natural sciences—she was a physicist—received a chance for life extension in accordance with the wishes of her relatives. We are especially happy about this.

So far we cannot disclose the details of this cryonizing, as we did not have time yet to receive the relatives’ agreement to publish the last name of the cryopatient, the city, where it all took place, and other details.

We would like to point out that we encountered a very friendly attitude and understanding on the part of both administrators and doctors involved. Everywhere our needs were accommodated. Of course, there were questions that everyone was interested in. We gave honest and detailed answers. And we encountered understanding. As a result, not only an interesting person was cryonized, but also her relatives—well-known, influential people in their town, received the hope to meet their beloved family member in the future.

We at KrioRus carefully log everything that happens during cryonizings: what happened and when, who called and when, who went out and when, when perfusion started, how it went, and how it finished, what was the state of the blood vessels, whether perfusion went through vessel access, and what was the attitude of various people: who helped us and who obstructed the process. Everything is protocoled, photographed, and filmed. So far we are not quite decided which parameters of this process can be disclosed and which cannot. It has to be pointed out that such procedures are very close to medicine, and for many people autopsy details constitute a difficult emotional experience, especially for the relatives of cryopatients.

But the current case – the 47th cryonization in KrioRus – is fully protocoled, and, as strange as it may sound, we would like to say that the quality of cryonizing, which we track in accordance with specific parameters, turned out to be average—not bad, not terrible, as it might have been expected in this case, but precisely average, acceptable—which makes us very happy.

Once again we would like to express our gratitude to the wonderful relatives, who were intelligent and understanding, to the administrators, whose job responsibilities did not require them to help us in this process, but they did, and to the doctors, including the wonderful elderly autopsist, who, at some point, noticed that some procedures after the removal of the brain were becoming difficult for us, and personally helped us to do the perfect job. Big thank you to everyone.

We are deeply convinced that cryonics will continue to develop further, and we will be building open, honest, mutually beneficial and mutually enriching relationships with everyone: doctors, funeral companies, administrators from various government organizations, as well as with all citizens of our giant country, and with people from other countries, who watch our activities with great interest. 

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