Friday, October 19, 2007

Review of Platt's Alcor Conference Review

Platt: I enjoyed seeing many old friends. The only person I had hoped to see, who didn't show up, was Melody Maxim.

How sweet! Seriously, I’m sure Charles is fully aware my husband was only released from the hospital the day the conference began, (after a six-day stay), which is why I was not in attendance. I had looked forward to seeing several people there. Though Charles really wasn’t on my list, I would have been glad to take the opportunity to call him a “liar,” to his face. I had also planned to sit on the front row for Steve Harris’ presentation, though I doubt he said anything new.

As to Charles’ comments about hoping to see me, I believe the odds were running about 2-to1 that he would “storm off, in a huff” at the very sight of me, amongst people who know the two of us, and knew I was planning to attend. Knowing Charles as I do, I would say that would have been a pretty safe bet. Charles can’t stand toe-to-toe with me and win a debate on the issues I have raised here, and I doubt, very seriously, that he could look me in the eyes and repeat the lies he and I both know he has told about me to Saul Kent and Steve Harris and on the Cold Filter Forum.

Platt: Since cryonics is a dynamically evolving field, a more forward-looking openingspeech might have been appropriate.

“Dynamically evolving”??? And where is this “dynamic evolution” occurring, Charles? You don’t give Alcor credit for the progress they have made, and most of the equipment you’ve designed for SA looks like prehistoric versions of equipment that has been readily available on the market, for decades. As I recently wrote, there is nothing new about “cryonics standby, stabilization and transport,” it’s just really just CPS (perfusion is a form of CPS) and the procedures involved have been successfully performed for MANY decades. I do so wish Charles would stop trying to re-invent the wheel and quit trying to bamboozle people into believing he is doing something new and fabulous.

Platt: This is a problem for me, because if the last 15 years of involvement in cryonics have taught me one thing, it is that all cryonics organizations have significant problems. I find it useful to admit and examine these problems as a first step toward solving them.

It’s my observation Charles occasionally makes a big show of admitting mistakes, but that’s all it is…a “big show”. Most instances of this occur when he is trying to convince Kent he’s made a mistake in regard to hiring someone, such as Mathew Sullivan, Bary Wilson, myself, and no doubt quite a few others before us. He won’t admit he’s been wrong about things like equipment and protocols SA has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on. He just keeps convincing Kent to hire new people, and then finds a way to get Kent to fire them, or run them off, in the hopes of finding someone unintelligent enough, or corrupt enough, to support him the way a few certain overpaid individuals have. I think many people would agree PLATT has been SA’s most “significant problem,” too bad he won’t admit THAT.

Platt: I also feel that this is a field where an inspirational approach may be more appropriate than the kind of bland progress report one would expect from a conventional company…. Some drama is necessary. Cryonics, after all, truly is one of the most dramatic initiatives in all of human history. If you downplay this, you sacrifice one of the most important aspects of thefield.

Then, Charles should truly be enjoying my posts on the Cold Filer Forum. In all seriousness, I believe this bit of Charles’ report shows his one and only true interest in cryonics. I’ve been told he has said that, “once cryonics becomes widely accepted, or normal,” he will no longer be interested in it. That fits in with what I know of Charles.

Platt: When my significant other reads _Life Extension,_ she always ends up feeling that she absolutely, positively has to pick up the phone immediately to buy a new related product. When she opens _Cryonics_ magazine, she seldom finishes reading it, and has become apathetic about her Alcor membership.Of course, she may not be typical.

She’s not typical. According to Charles, his significant other has great difficulty reading English, which is not her first language. He once asked me to read one of his romance novels, as a friend, and give him my review. I asked him what his significant other thought of it and he told me that, during the ten years they had been together, she had never read ANY of his novels, because it would take her “six months” to read ONE of them, and then she probably wouldn’t understand it. Now, he’s putting her forth as some sort of literary critic. Typical Platt behavior…most likely, he’s just using this opportunity to criticize Alcor and suck up to LEF at the same time.

On one occasion, I was admiring a truly beautiful calendar hanging near Charles’ desk. He told me he took the photos and wrote the text for it. Later, when I was complaining about his significant other’s (SA’s alleged web designer) failure to do any work on the web site over a period of nearly three months, he expounded on her talents, saying she had won an award for designing that same calendar. I asked, “What did she do? Draw the squares?” (Actually, I believe there were a few expletives in my original comments.)

Personally, I believe Platt uses his significant other for a tax advantage. All of us at SA thought he was doing the work on the web, but a partnership owned by Charles and the significant other was getting paid for it. I tend to believe there have been more than a few projects Charles actually did, but the significant other has been paid for.

Platt: h) Alcor Directors Panel…However Saul declined to participate, prompting one member of the audience to ask why. "I prefer not to," he said. No one pressed him for a more illuminating explanation.

Saul comes across to me, as thinking of himself as “above it all.” The problem with being “above it all,” is that you might not know what’s REALLY going on down in the trenches. Perhaps cryonicists should insist Saul Kent provide some “illuminating explanations,” on a number of topics, such as his seemingly blind faith in Charles Platt.

Platt: I found this suggestion intriguing, since anyone familiar with Alcor's history might conclude that the organization has been anything *but* stable. I'll list just a few random examples that come to mind. I'm not saying whose fault these problems were, only that they all occurred under the current system of a self-elected board.

My only comment here is, I believe Charles played a role in some of the past “instability” of Alcor.

Platt: For a good historical record of stability, I cite the Cryonics Institute. It has been around for almost as long as Alcor and has experienced none of the upheavals, with the exception of a run-in with local regulators that caused the Institute to be classified as a cemetery. However thisappears to have been provoked by the furor surrounding Alcor in the Arizona legislature.

Being “around” for a long period of time, doesn’t necessarily indicate progress, nor rule out stagnation. One is unlikely to encounter many obstacles, while standing still. (I’m not saying CI hasn’t accomplished anything, I’m just disagreeing with the comparison, as the two companies are very different in a number of ways.) How convenient for Charles to be able to blame Alcor for CI’s political problems.

Platt: As Dr. Crippen put it, if we allow people to choose to be pronounced when their brains (and other organs) are still viable, we may descend a slippery slope which leads ultimately to people auctioning their body parts on eBay.

At this point, even though I have had many friendly exchanges with David Crippen, I became so concerned by what I felt was a form of paternalism, I could not remain silent. "Why not?" I shouted. A few other malcontents voiced their agreement.

There’s not a paternalistic bone in Charles Platt’s body. It’s easy for me to envision Charles shouting out from a crowd, though, as it’s not quite as courageous as walking up to the microphone and asking a question, (Did they do that, this year?), or personally asking the question to Dr. Crippen’s face.

Platt: Dr. Crippen seemed stunned. *Why not* allow people to sell pieces of themselves on eBay? Apparently no one in his entire medical career had ever suggested such a concept seriously to him. In response, he said that allowing this kind of thing would lead to exploitation of people who were the most vulnerable in society--poor people especially. I was not able to determine whether he felt they would be exploited because they would be tempted to sell their own organs, or because they would be unable to obtain organs, since organs might not be "free" anymore.

Dr. Crippen was probably stunned that anyone would ask such a question, as anyone of reasonable intelligence should be able to ascertain that the auctioning off of one’s organs is unlikely to be an acceptable practice, anytime soon. Only someone as arrogant as Charles Platt could assume he was the first to suggest this to Dr. Crippen. I’m sure the private sale of human organs has been a widely-debated topic, for a very long time. Maybe Charles should use his writing skills to promote this idea, if he’s so fond of it, rather than patting himself on the back for heckling Dr. Crippen.

Platt: Cryonicists should realize a) we may still be regarded as a lunatic libertarian fringe by many people in the conventional medical establishment,

Charles writes “we,” but I believe it was he who told me the definition of a cryonicist is “someone who has made arrangements for their own cryopreservation.” He remarks, at the bottom of his review, that he is not a member of Alcor, and when I was at SA, he told me he was not signed up with ANY organization. (I don’t necessarily agree with the definition of “cryonicist” as relayed to me, by Charles, I’m just pointing out that he is perhaps masquerading as something he has told me he was not.)

Platt: b) Steve Harris MD
Following the panel, Steve described the procedure generally known as liquid ventilation which entails infusing the lungs with a chilled breathable liquid while blood is circulated either by natural heartbeats or, in the case of a cryonics case, by cardiopulmonary support. Liquid ventilation enables exceptionally rapid cooling. Only extracorporeal bypass is faster, but it must be preceded by surgery in an appropriate environment. Liquid ventilation can be performedspontaneously in almost any location, and should require relatively little training of personnel.

Steve Harris has been TALKING ABOUT liquid ventilation for a very long time, and not much more. Liquid ventilation experiments on dogs were carried out during the First World War, and I believe there are papers dating back to the 1920’s on this topic. Harris seems to have “made his mark” on the small world of cryonics, during some LV experiments he did with Mike Darwin. I believe that was more than a decade ago. What progress has he made since then?

Platt: The procedure has advanced to the point where it may be deployable by Suspended Animation in human cryonics cases during 2008.

More “smoke and mirrors.” The term “liquid ventilation” implies the intention to deliver oxygen and if that is the intention, recent studies indicate liquid ventilation has not been more beneficial to patients than conventional mechanical ventilation (CMV), neither has it caused less damage than CMV, as had been hoped.

I still am of the opinion that delivering oxygen to ischemic cryonics patients causes more harm than good. On the other hand, I think lung lavage may prove to be a very easy and efficient way to initially cool cryonics patients. Based on Harris’ CF posts, I believe the “LV” contraption Platt built for SA has taken up residence at CCR, because it’s far too large for field work, which is what Platt was supposedly designing it for. It’s a relatively simple device, and it could easily be made portable. My belief is, Platt and Harris have already been allowed to bill LEF (via SA and CCR), a rather large sum of money for design, fabrication hours, and experimental hours, for this project, and will continue to do so for a long period of time to come, before this project is ready for the field…if it EVER is. (Hopefully, my goading will push them toward actually completing this project.)

It’s my opinion that Platt has been bilking LEF/SA for years for his amateur design projects such as PIBs, ramps, level detectors, all of which could be purchased “as is” or easily adapted from existing equipment, at an EXTREMELY small percentage of what has been paid to Platt for his contraptions. The amount of time and money that have been spent on Platt’s amateur design and engineering projects is truly mind-boggling.

Platt: Animal trials have yielded consistent results exceeding a cooling rate of 1 degree Celsius per minute, in dogs that fully recovered afterward. Higher rates may be feasible if we are willing to inflict some lung damage, which would be acceptable to neuropatients and might also be tolerated by some whole-body cryonics patients.

Again, how many years has Harris been talking about this? Weren’t the initial experiments he did with Darwin, more than a decade ago? I have a feeling about as much gets done at CCR as SA.

Platt: Unfortunately Steve's presentation was significantly longer than the program time permitted, and he had to stop about half-way through his PowerPoint slides.

I’m sure the remaining slides would be just as fascinating as Harris’ technical posts on CF, but not nearly as interesting, or revealing, as his attacks on me, someone he doesn’t even know.

Platt: Tanya Jones showed us the new rat lab which has been set up primarily by Chana Williford. This looks ready to begin work, and should have the potential to yield some interestingresults. Tanya said that one goal is to determine how long an animal can be placed on bypass

Are we talking about with blood in the circulation? If so, people, (most often infants) are frequently perfused on ECMO machines (perfusion machines very similar to heart-lung machines), for weeks, quite successfully. (A question and a comment for Alcor, not really in response to Charles' report.)

Platt (in regard to the vitrification software): This caused me some chagrin, since I was similarly impressed three years ago when I visited Suspended Animation and saw David Hayes doing a demo of a LabView vitrification control system. At that time I was too naive to realize that the system had very little functionality beneath its user interface.

This reminds me of how I feel about SA, which in my opinion, has very little functionality beneath its slick “user interface” (their website and Platt’s propaganda).

Platt: e) Portable Ice Bath

Charles used 1,295 words to review the Alcor PIB. How many years has Charles been billing SA for designing, fabricating, and redesigning PIB after PIB? Did he bill Alcor for PIB designs, prior to coming to SA? How many thousands, (or tens of thousands), of dollars is Kent going to give Platt to perfect this REALLY SIMPLY project?

Platt: the bath looked too small for tall or obese patients, and I wondered if it was strong enough for rough handling when it was fully loaded with a body and a lot of ice.

Charles didn’t have to “wonder” about this. These baskets are considered sturdy enough to airlift patients from remote, wilderness locations, and the weight capacity is on the manufacturer’s web site, for all the world to see. I believe it was Michelle Fry, who is now affiliated with SA, who recommended the use of this type of basket for the PIB at Alcor.

Platt: Lastly there was no way to reduce the length of the bath to fit in elevators or go around tight turns in hallways. One of the many things I learned from Hugh Hixon over the years isthat articulated or telescopic ends to a PIB are very useful for this purpose.

I spent a decade in medicine, and I’ve never seen a need for telescoping ends on patient beds, surgical tables, or EMT/paramedic gurneys.

Platt: I also learned from the PIB developed by David Shumaker and Mike Quinn before I joined Suspended Animation that a waist-high PIB has immense advantages. The Alcor version, like its predecessors, is at floor height, which makes manual CPS very awkward. Also, since a patient must be elevated before blood washout can begin, either the patient has to be lifted out of the PIB onto an operating table, or the entire PIB has to be raised.

This is valid, but the legged version has its disadvantages, also. The legs on SA’s PIB make it unstable in the vehicle. Having a lower center of gravity would be advantageous for both the patient and the care providers. (Yes, I know, they have those handy-dandy locking mechanisms in the SA vehicles, but most clients would be picked up in a rental vehicle from the airport nearest to their home, not one of the SA vehicles.) Collapsible legs, (something I suggested in my early days at SA), such as those on EMT/paramedic gurneys may be the answer to this issue.

Platt: would guess that the chickenwire would be vulnerable to damage during baggage handling.

Translation: “I really think SA should continue to pay me, indefinitely, for designing and building PIBs.”

Platt: Overall however I still tend to think that the requirements for an ice bath in a cryonics case are so unusual and so different from anything in conventional emergency medicine, I question whether medical equipment can be adapted successfully.

For goodness sakes, the PIB is just a rectangular structure fitted with a vinyl liner…an over-sized collapsible “ice chest,” of sorts. I believe it is in Charles’ own best financial interest to consistently question whether medical equipment can be adapted for cryonics procedures. It is to his benefit to have people believe cryonics procedures are “so unusual and so different from anything in conventional emergency medicine,” when that most often is not true. Cryonics procedures are nearly identical to existing medical procedures, (which is why I believe cryonics is a valid area of science). The main differences are the solutions being used and the degree of cooling, and neither of those things requires millions of dollars to be spent on the development of “unique” equipment by a wannabe engineer/designer. I believe the only reasons Charles has been able to fool so many people, in this regard, is the lack of familiarity with existing medical equipment by most cryonicists, and with the aid of his excellent graphics. In addition to being a very good writer, Charles is very skilled with graphic design software, I’ll give him that. Just remember that “good graphics do not a good design make.”

Platt: f) Minimizing Standby Kits
Steve gave great emphasis to a current endeavor to "minimize" standby equipment. Supposedly Alcor will reduce the number of Pelican-brand transport containers from 7 to 3, although he did not say what would be left out to achieve this. Since Suspended Animation has gone in the opposite direction, *adding* several containers during the past three years, obviously I am out of sympathy with the Alcor approach.

It would be an excellent decision to reduce the number of transport containers, and SA’s propensity for going in the opposite direction is just more evidence of Platt’s poor management and decision making skills. More is not better, in this situation, for anyone other than Charles who gets to design all those cute little plastic organizers and foam cut-outs for the SA transport containers, and write up all the protocols and media propaganda that includes more details about the contents of those containers than needs to be made public, a practice that makes it easy for the information to become outdated. For instance, why put something like “three temperature logging devices” instead of simply “temperature logging devices”? What if you change to two, or four, later on? Then, your website, or information you have posted on someone else’s website, becomes obsolete. Charles is a true master of creating “busy work” and literary “padding.”

Platt: But without more information there is not much to say, except to note that the 3 Pelicans do not include a mechanical CPS device, which I would have thought is fundamental.

If a mechanical CPS device is so “fundamental,” why did Charles, as “Team Coordinator,” elect not to take the Michigan Instruments Thumper to the CI-81 case? (He may say they took the AutoPulse, instead, but the AutoPulse was an unproven prototype, at the time, and failed almost as soon as it was deployed.

Platt: the massive occlusive pump that has been a fixture in Alcor kits for many years (and is still used at Suspended Animation). I would be delighted to retire that piece of equipment,

Too bad Charles bought EIGHT of these pumps, before deciding he didn’t like them, (four of them after I arrived on the scene and advised him to opt for centrifugal pumps).

Platt: but I don't know whether the centrifugal pump in the new Alcor system is capable of equivalent performance. In particular, I wonder if it can deliver 3 liters per minute, and whether it can develop a pressure of 250 mm mercury. While such a high pressure would normally be required only when using a high flow rate with the smallest cannula (generating considerable back pressure), a consulting perfusionist who advised Suspended Animation did advocate this capability.

I supplied Charles with a large amount of information on centrifugal pumps, as far back as March of 2006, and informed him ON DOZENS OF OCCASIONS that I used centrifugal pumps in heart surgery for the vast majority of my approximately 1,500 cases. (Don’t go there, Harris, you’ll only make yourself look foolish, again.) Typical flows for adult heart surgery are in the 3 – 6 liters-per-minute range, something I told Charles, many, many times. One of the FIRST suggestions I made to SA was to use centrifugal pumps for the washout procedure.

Yes, Charles…the centrifugal pump can be used to develop a pressure of 250mm Hg, and higher, though I don’t know why anyone would want to. It is extremely unlikely the pressure will ever reach 250mmHg in the perfusion circuit during a cryonics washout procedure, (unless something is wrong, like a kinked line), even using a small cannula, (unless SA is planning on over-pressurizing patients).

No, Charles…the new Alcor centrifugal pump is not capable of “equivalent performance” to the ill-advised occlusive pumps being used at SA. Unlike the SA pumps that will continue to pump at the set flow rate in the presence of increasing pressure until something, (either the perfusion circuit, or the patient), blows apart, the centrifugal pumps will deliver less flow in response to increasing pressures, making the system infinitely more safe. (Something I’ve said to Charles, on dozens of occasions.)

Why Charles refused to take my advice on this topic, more than 18 months ago, is beyond my comprehension. Does he realize he just admitted I advised him to use centrifugal pumps for washout and he didn't follow my advice? What is his excuse for this? He's admitting to ignoring the professional advice of a qualified, highly-paid consultant whom he retained, later recommended as a fulltime employee, and then tried to promote as a candidate for the management position?

If he doubted my advice, why didn't he explore it further, rather than just ignore it and buy four more occlusive pumps? He could have consulted with CCR's perfusionist, or verified the capabilities of the equipment I was recommending, for himself, through the manufacturers. He could have easily found hundreds of articles on the Internet, regarding the use of centrifugal pumps and typical flows during heart surgery.

Platt doesn’t want to admit he blew making the best choice, in regard to the pumps he purchased for SA's washout procedure. Alcor is most likely going to introduce the more safe centrifugal pumps, before the “experts in standby, stabilization and transport” at SA do. SA could have “beaten Alcor to the punch,” if Platt had been willing to follow my advice and suggestions, back in March 2006. Instead, he basically misrepresented the situation, by telling me the washout solution was “too viscous” for the centrifugal pumps, and I was too new to the field to know better. In addition, I trusted him, at the time. I believe he is attempting to cover himself for making not one, but two, huge mistakes in regard to the purchasing of two sets of four pumps. (Are you paying attention, Saul Kent??? You wanted to be “better” than Alcor, and you could have been, at least in the area of washout perfusion, but Platt blew it.)

Platt: In addition the new Alcor ATP did not seem to have a good pressure monitor; the reservoir bag was very small (could easily be made bigger)

Could it be that Alcor cannot afford the expensive pressure alarms I was able to convince Saul to allow us to purchase for SA, (very simple devices the RUPs could not figure out how to use at the last case)? I happen to know those alarms are an Alcor’s wish list.

I don’t know what Charles is referring to, in regard to the “reservoir bag” he thought was too small. I was under the impression Alcor was using the large hardshell reservoir, but I believe they were also exploring “closed” circuits, at one time, in which case there would be no reservoir. I’ll inquire about this.

Platt: and I didn't see high/low liquid level alarms.

I see Charles is still trying to promote his own extremely expensive, invasive, high-level alarms that never worked. Amusing.

Platt: I was puzzled by the decision to minimize the number of containers in transport work, because this seems a secondary issue to me.

It’s my observation that Charles is often puzzled by intelligent, common sense suggestions and ideas. A couple of times in his review of the Alcor Conference, Charles states Alcor personnel, Steve Van Sickle, in particular, were unresponsive or unreceptive to his questions, but I’ve been told it was quite the other way around, and that Charles went out of his way to avoid contact with them, and did not ask questions on the tour that went unanswered.

Platt: Surely the primary concern is whether a cryonics organization is ready to do cases. This readiness issue is very mundane and rests on wearisome tasks such as inventorycontrol, swapping out expired meds, running training sessions, practice sessions, and emergency simulations, finding medically qualified help,

The SA training sessions run by Platt were a ridiculous waste of time and money, in my opinion, as a medical professional familiar with the procedures being attempted. “A science fiction writer trying to teach shop workers and golfers how to do medical procedures,” would be a valid description. As soon as the paramedics left, Platt would set about criticizing them and explaining why their suggestions were inappropriate, in favor of his own plans.

Charles has never expended any significant amount of energy searching for medically qualified help, as far as I can see. While I was at SA, the entire focus of the company seemed to be on building his amateur designs, and my guess is that has been the focus of SA, for more than three years, now. Occasionally, Charles “buddies up to” someone with medical credentials, in the hopes they will validate his madness, but I think everyone can see how this has worked out, over the years.

According to recent posts on CF, Michelle Fry, a former employee of Alcor, is now working with SA. He tried to steal her from Alcor, once before, during a training session Alcor held at the SA facility. Rumor has it he brought her into SA, just after my departure, but she had to return to her old job, due to some sort of family issues. Of course, it's not unusual that her coming and going wasn’t mentioned on the SA website, the first time around. Now we have her posting on behalf of SA on the CF forum, along with someone else’s vague remarks about “medical professionals” at SA, though there’s no changes on the staff page. (Some things never change.)

I thought Michelle was a paramedic, but I’m not sure of this. The Alcor comment at the time of her hire stated she “comes to us from a group of EMTs based in Laughlin, Nevada,” but this does not indicate if she, herself, is a paramedic or EMT. I’ve heard she previously worked as a dealer, in a casino. Perhaps she came to be associated with cryonics through Mr. Laughlin.

If Platt has brought Fry to SA, I believe we may be seeing a replay of Platt’s “Wilson/Maxim” episode. He brought in Bary Wilson as a highly qualified manager. When Bary didn’t want to do everything Charles’ way, Charles set about discrediting him, and brought me in to replace him. (Charles can lie about this all he wants, but Bary, Charles, Saul and I all know it’s true, and I have many emails from Charles that would prove it was his intention to replace Bary with me.) I don’t think it’s a stretch of my imagination to think there’s a possibility Ms. Baldwin, (who seems to be somewhat comparable to Dr. Wilson), is already questioning some of Platt’s antics, and that he has brought in Fry, possibly with the promise of the management position, (just speculation).

Platt: writing SOPs, and performing inspections. Hardly anyone enjoys this kind ofwork, and moreover, no one receives any special reward for doing it well.

"No special reward?" In my opinion, Charles has been rewarded quite handsomely for doing it poorly.

Platt: You really never know how good your state of readiness is until there's an emergency, and even when that occurs, outsiders may still not know if you did a decent job, unlessyou take the time to produce a very detailed and honest case summary.

I’m not so sure about that “honest” remark, as the people who wrote and reviewed SA’s report weren’t even at the case. How “honest” can you be when you weren’t there and the people who were there didn’t really understand the procedures and made contradictory statements? It took them a long period of time to write, review, and revise the report, and after harsh criticisms, they are now further revising it, something I will comment on further, at another time.

Platt: Needless to say, this entire report reflects a viewpoint of just one person who is by no means typical of Alcor's membership. Indeed, while I remain passionate about cryonics

To Saul Kent and Ben Best:
Charles may be whispering words of love, passion and commitment in your ears, but I firmly believe he’s really just *using* you. I don’t think he cares about cryonics at all, other than in regard to the money he makes, and the opportunity it gives him to promote himself as some sort of “expert.”

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