Monday, December 14, 2009

Brian Wowk's Affidavit (Alcor vs. Johnson)

I'm wondering why Brian Wowk was selected, to submit an affidavit in the Alcor vs. Johnson case. Was it because he has a lot of letters after his name? When Johnson was working at Alcor, in Arizona, I believe Dr. Wowk was working at a facility in California. How many hours did he spend shadowing Johnson, at Alcor, that would allow him to have firsthand knowledge as to what Johnson had access to, or is his information actually secondhand? (This reminds me of Dr. Wowk's colleague, Steve Harris, writing about my activities at Suspended Animation, in Florida, when he was in California and didn't have a clue as to what went on at SA, while I was there.) I believe at least two people who DID work with Johnson, at Alcor, are still working there. Why didn't THEY submit affidavits?

I have some questions and comments, regarding Dr. Wowk's affidavit, excerpts of which are quoted in italics, below

"I can state based on personal knowledge that Alcor Life Extension Foundation maintains trade secrets, many of which were observed by, or accessible to Larry Johnson during his employ."

How does Dr. Wowk know what was observed by, or accessible to, Larry Johnson, at Alcor? Again, I ask, how many hours did he spend with Mr. Johnson, at Alcor? As far as I can tell, Larry Johnson hasn't published any "trade secrets" belonging to Alcor. Wowk mentions the formulas, but Johnson has publicly stated he doesn't know what is in Alcor's formulas. If I'm not mistaken, the M22 formula wasn't completed until after Johnson resigned.

Dr. Wowk mentions perfusion equipment, including pumps, cannulae and sensors, none of which could be considered as "trade secrets." He also mentions surgical techniques, but there is nothing "secret" about the way vascular cannulations are performed. Maybe he's referring to chopping off heads with ball peen hammers and chisels.

I doubt vendor information, or pending and negotiated contracts, from six years ago, are of any significance.

"There are competitiors in the field of cryonics."

Really? Other than CI? Didn't the president of CI recently visit Alcor? Does Johnson know anything that goes on, at Alcor, which CI is unaware of, that would give CI an edge if they knew?

Dr. Wowk mentions "progressive training" and "reputation." According to what I have heard, regarding their surgical procedures, that must be a damn slow rate of progression, and I believe their reputation has always been questionable, to say the least.

Dr. Wowk mentions protecting the identity of professionals, who may want to remain anonymous. I don't think Johnson has mentioned anyone who wasn't already known to be associated with cryonics. Perhaps Dr. Wowk should take up this issue with some of his peers. His colleague, Steve Harris, once published the name of a surgeon I recruited to help Suspended Animation, without the surgeon's permission, on the Cold Filter Forum, no less. (Thankfully, the moderator removed it.) Suspended Animation, a company that won't publish the name of its own staff members, didn't hesitate to publish the name of a perfusion group they were working with, (without permission, according to a leader of the perfusion group).

"Like any other company, all Alcor financial information is confidential to Alcor, except for disclosures required by law or at the sole discretion of Alcor."

This seems inaccurate, to me. As a non-profit organization, I believe Alcor's finances are mostly open to public scrutiny.

"There is a significant amount of tangible and intangible harm to Alcor which would continue unless Mr. Johnson is enjoined from the dissemination of confidential information and trade secrets of Alcor."

In my opinion, nothing Mr. Johnson has disseminated even remotely resembles a trade secret. As for Alcor's "confidential information," I believe a lot of that includes information I believe should be brought to light.

As for the memory of Ted Williams, if any party has desecrated that, it has been Alcor, in my opinion. Alcor has attempted to claim that Mr. Johnson's actions have upset the Williams family, but Alcor retracted that claim, when one member of the Williams family pointed out that they were speaking for only ONE member of the Williams family, (one of the two who had him cryopreserved, against the wishes of other family members, I believe). I am acquainted with one member of the Williams family, and I believe he is thankful Mr. Johnson brought to light the sloppy way his relative was cared for.

Dr. Wowk mentions "false allegations" in the book. Which allegations can Dr. Wowk prove false? If information in Johnson's book is false, I suggest Dr. Wowk take that up with the Alcor staff members and former staff members making these allegations, on Johnson's audiotapes.

Dr. Wowk accuses Johnson of leading people to believe Alcor's cryopreserved members "are not treated and preserved using state of the art care."

The two (related) medical procedures required to deliver cryonics solutions are vascular cannulations and perfusion. There is no way in hell, Dr. Wowk can convince me that Alcor has been consistently delivering these two well-established procedures with anything remotely resembling "state-of-the-art" quality. Alcor has frequently allowed laymen, with no relevant education or proper training, to attempt to perform these procedures on Alcor's members. There are frequent reports of botched cannulations, massive air embolization and inappropriate perfusion pressures. Then, there's the issue of people with very little, (if any), medical education, and no proper surgical training, (laymen), being allowed to perfom decapitations, as evidenced by the appalling Ted Williams case report.

The public has a right to know the truth, in regard to cryonics care providers. These people are being promoted as "professionals" capable of performing "state of the art" cutting-edge medical procedures, when I believe the truth is, a large number of these "professionals" are uneducated, unskilled persons who can't deliver femoral cannulations and perfusion at the "state of the art" level, which existed 30 years ago. And, they want people to pay $80K - 150K for their mostly uneducated, unskilled care providers. In my opinion, THAT is the "trade secret" Alcor doesn't want to get out.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Was Harris' Defense of the Use of Propofol Convincing?

Recently, Steve Harris made a brief appearance on Cold Filter, where he played nice, (for a change), apologized to me for his past transgressions, and defended some cryonics practices I have questioned.

One of his defenses was related to the use of propofol, in cryonics. Basically, his argument consisted of one journal article, out of India, regarding CPR consciousness. I don't think that's enough to justify allowing, basically, anyone off the street to transport, administer, or have free access to, a drug such as propofol. The "RUP's" at Suspended Animation and Alcor have no business playing with this medication, and I believe the use of this drug, by unqualified personnel, puts the cryonics organizations at risk of being accused of murder, again, in the future.

I've witnessed many codes, during my education and my nine years working in heart surgery, and I don't recall a patient ever telling me they remember being aware of CPR efforts. None of my co-workers ever mentioned anyone being "awake" during CPR efforts, and I'm sure that's something that would have been mentioned. I've known a few people who have "died," but been revived, and they were totally unaware of the efforts that saved them. This past week, I asked two experienced paramedics about this issue. One has over 15 years of experience, and the other about 30 years of experience. Neither one of them thought this was an issue. As one of them said, "The only patients I've ever had, who claimed to be aware of anything during CPR, claimed to have had some sort of out-of-body experience."

Keep in mind, the patients receiving CPR in conventional medicine, unlike cryonics patients, have not been declared "legally dead," meaning the efforts are being applied in the hopes of immediately reviving them. No one has given up hope for THIS lifetime, yet, unlike they have, with cryonics patients. Since any cryonics patient with a propofol-armed standby team, nearby, has been in the process of dying, prior to the arrival of any such team, they are likely to be already heavily sedated. In addition, they've most likely been "dead" for several minutes before the cryonics team begins their efforts. Taking into consideration these factors, and others, cronics patients are much less likely to regain awareness, than patients in conventional medicine scenarios.

Essentially, Harris has merely made the "keep them down" cryonics argument, which in my opinion, is nothing more than the "we're so good, we might actually revive someone" propaganda. Personally, I give the RUP's virtually a zero-percent chance of reviving any of their clients, and think the propofol is just one more ruse designed to fool the public, (and, possibly, themselves), into
thinking they are "medical professionals." As already pointed out, in addition to it probably being unnecessary, it adds to the possibility of cryonics care providers being accused of hastening the deaths of their clients.

I don't think Harris has made a convincing argument, for allowing people of questionable intelligence and ethics to be allowed to "play doctor" with medications such as propofol.

***Note: There could be an argument that propofol may provide cerebral
protection, but I doubt many people working in cryonics understand this topic well enough to even discuss it. So far, I can only recall ONE person associated with cryonics ever mentioning this. Instead, cryonics documents indicate the drug is used to "maintain unconsciousness," and unqualified care providers go around spouting phrases like, "It's used to put them down and keep them down."

Melody Maxim - Cryonics Meets Medicine

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Johnson Asks for Jury Trial in New York Case

I believe there may be court rulings, in both Arizona and New York, tomorrow, in the Alcor vs. Johnson cases. I am not an attorney, and I can't even pretend to be able to predict how the courts will rule, but I don't think Alcor has made their case, from a common sense point of view. They keep rambling on about "trade secrets," but I think their greatest "trade secret" has probably been that they have been sending just about anyone off the street to perform femoral cannulations and perfusion, and charging $80K-150K for it. There's nothing "state of the art," about their performance of these well-established medical procedures, as far as I can tell. Personally, I think almost anyone, (especially a judge!) should be able to see that the most likely scenario is that Alcor is not afraid of Johnson providing trade secrets to their virtually non-existent competition, but is extremely concerned with people knowing just how disgustingly incompetent and amateurish their patient care has been, for the most part.

Johnson hasn't worked there for six years. He hasn't revealed any "trade secrets," as far as I can tell, so I would guess he's very unlikely to do so, in the future. In addition, Alcor publishes almost anything, and everything, about their activities, on the Internet. If I were the judge, I would tell them to quit wasting my time, and order them to reimburse Mr. Johnson for his legal expenses.

Johnson's attorneys arguments seem sharp, and to the point. In my opinion, Alcor's arguments seem vague and confusing, and sprinkled with rhetorical insults. They rely on things like an affidavit from Platt, which seems to indicate Johnson stole an NDA from his file. Most people familiar with that situation knows there is about a 99.9999% chance that was a blatant lie. I think I'll limit my comments on Wowk's affidavit, by saying his remarks about Johnson and "trade secrets" seem just as lame as the rest of Alcor's remarks on this topic. Was he even working at the Alcor facility, when Johnson was there, or was he at the 21CM facility, in California? My guess is, he was probably just "doing his job," as a member of the Kent Clan, in producing the affidavit.

I'm wondering if Alcor has been intentionally delaying this case, hoping Johnson would run out of money. It will be interesting to see what happens, tomorrow. If the NY judge doesn't throw it out, Johnson's attorneys have filed a request for a jury trial. There's nothing like airing everyone's dirty laundry, in public. I'm sure Johnson has his flaws, (just as all of us), but I'm guessing Alcor's laundry has a lot more stains, than his.

The New York court documents can be read by going to:
Search for Index Number 113938/2009, and click on "eFiled Documents" at the bottom of the case page.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Don't Drink the Kool-Aid

**Edited 12/10/09***

It's easy to see how cryonics organizations, such as Alcor and Suspended Animation, have remained subjects of public ridicule and doubt, when observing their supporters, (who do more harm, than good, if you ask me). Observe the book reviews for the Johnson/Baldyga book, "Frozen." More importantly, observe the comments under the book reviews.

Charles Platt, (who was implicated in unethical activities, in the book), wrote a three-sentence review, essentially calling the book "boring." He didn't call Johnson a liar, or deny anything in the book, simply stated it probably was "not very interesting." As of this morning, 32 out of 47 people found his comments "helpful." As I wrote on Amazon, I agree Platt's remarks were "helpful," in that knowing someone who has been accused of unethical activities, and who is one of the stars of Johnson's incriminating audiotapes, wants others to think the book is boring, but I don't think the voters were thinking along the same lines.

I, (a medical professional, who has worked in cryonics), wrote a review, and only 30 out of 68 people have found it "helpful." If one reads the comments under my review, they will find no small amount of lies, name-calling and personal attacks, (pretty much the same treatment I got, when I first started publicly exposing the incompetence, and unethical behavior, at Suspended Animation). I think it is safe to say the Kool-Aid drinkers are stacking the ballot boxes, when it comes to the public dissemination of information regarding cryonics organizations.

Cryonet is another fine example of the Kool-Aid drinkers attempting to suppress anything, and everything, that even remotely resembles a criticism of the cryonics organizations, and sometimes, even non-critical posts by people they don't like. Not long ago, someone complained about my posts not appearing due to my "rating being too low." Even my most inocuous posts were being rated as "flamebait." In my mind, nonsense like this is nothing more than the mostly-incompetent status quo, attempting to maintain their excessive salaries and "expert" status, by trying to quash any negative reviews of their work. Actions like these are probably motivated by fear, THEY KNOW my criticisms are accurate, so they don't want others to read them. If they had valid arguments to my criticisms, they would not attempt to quash my opinions, but would prove me wrong. Thankfully, a few open-minded, intelligent souls banded together, went back and gave all my posts positive ratings, so my future posts would appear.

When people respond to criticisms with only lies, personal attacks and attempts to quash the information, it indicates they have something to hide, and that the criticisms are most likely valid.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Suspended Animation's Perfusionists

When I was an employee of Suspended Animation, I fully intended to be the perfusionist on call, 48 weeks of the year. I'm not sure how that would have worked out, because at some point, as I recall, Platt, whom Kent insisted on having as a "Team Leader," said he wouldn't do cases with me. (Fancy that...Kent found a science fiction writer preferable to a qualified perfusionist, as a cryonics care provider.) Prior to that time, when I suggested we contract with a Florida-based perfusion group, to cover for my four vacation weeks, I was scoffed at, and told "real medical professionals won't work with us." I was also told it was "too expensive," so imagine my surprise, when SA contracted with the very same group for 52 weeks a year, and leased equipment from them. Recently, in a Cold Filter post, Steve Harris remarked on how expensive this is. Call me crazy, but if it means getting rid of a RUP, or two, to have qualified perfusionists at cryonics cases, that is what should be done.

I've been acquainted with a person who helps run that perfusion group, for quite a few years. When I found out they contracted with SA, I did contact him. I told him I was happy cryonics patients would have qualified perfusionists, but I also told him I thought he should be aware of what he might be getting into. Specifically, I said his perfusionists should be prepared to go to cases without anyone capable of performing a femoral cannulation, which is exactly what did happen. I also said they should either investigate the legalities of carrying certain drugs across state lines, or be cautious of carrying any of SA's luggage. I don't believe SA has done their homework, in regard to who may carry and/or administer certain medications they are using. I am not the only one to express this concern, Mr. Ettinger has also mentioned it, and I wouldn't want any of my fellow perfusionists to end up in jail, or ruin their careers, because SA might be pretending to be more "legitimate" than they really are.

When the Johnson book hit the shelves, I happened to notice that Suspended Animation was naming the perfusion group, on the SA website, and I became concerned. I thought it odd that SA refuses to name their own staff members, but was naming the perfusion group. (Is SA ashamed of their staff members, or are the staff members ashamed of cryonics? I suspect both.) I called my acquaintance, again, and asked him if he was aware of the book, or that his company was named on the SA website. He said he was not aware, of either, and seemed appropriately concerned about both. Personally, I think SA should have informed the perfusionists of the book and asked their permission to name the company on the website. If "FD," over on Cold Filter, wants to call my concern for my fellow perfusionists a "dirty trick," so be it, but in my opinion, they deserve the right to protect their identities, as much as, OR MORE THAN, the SA staff members, especially in light of the Johnson book, which implicates several people, with close ties to SA, in unethical behaviors.

The person I spoke to asked me how I got involved in cryonics politics. I told him I got involved because I thought cryonics patients deserved better care than what they were getting, and that I felt a lot of people were "scamming" the people funding the cryonics industry, by sending a bunch of laymen to botch femoral cannulations and perfusion attempts. His response? "Well, they're already dead, aren't they?" and "Everybody who pays for it knows there's little likelihood this will ever work, don't they?"

To be honest, the only objection I have to the first remark is that it indicates that person would not ever object to substandard care being given to cryonics patients, no matter how atrocious. In other words, if they arrived at procedures, for the next two decades, and there was never a good cannulation, or someone asked them to do something insane, (like deliver 17 liters of fluid to a patient, when there was no venous return), they wouldn't say anything.

As for the second remark, my response was, "Take a hike on the Suspended Animation website, and tell me you don't think they are misrepresenting the quality of their services to the people who are buying them." He didn't have anything to say about that, and I'm pretty sure he had never visited the SA website.

He told me he "...never had any problem with them, other than like you said, they can't do a femoral cannulation..." What does this mean? I think it means his group gets paid promptly, for providing perfusionists for training sessions and cases, and for leasing equipment, to SA. I was under the distinct impression he didn't really care about anything other than that. As he said, "They're (the patients) are already dead, aren't they?"

If I were managing a cryonics care facility, I wouldn't have any problem with hiring qualified perfusionists, even if they thought cryonics was the biggest joke, in the universe, as long as I felt they would properly perform their duties. However, to provide qualified perfusionists, without anyone to perform the cannulations they need, in order to properly perform perfusion, is just a waste of money, and sending only people who won't object to what I would call "malpractice," because the patients "are already dead," is not going to lead to progress. Someone involved has to give a damn about something other than the money.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Alcor vs. Johnson and Vanguard Press

Go to

Click on "Index Search"

Enter "113938/2009" in the "Index Number" space and click on "Find Case(s).

Click on the Index Number, and then click on "Show eFiled Documents"

You will be able to read all of the court documents, in the Alcor vs. Vanguard Press and Larry Johnson. Personally, I think Mr. Yalowitz (Vanguard) and Ms. Wang (Johnson) are extremely sharp and have made excellent arguments. I think Mr. Bauer (Alcor) is probably doing the best he can, with what he has to work with.

Alcor seems to be relying on several arguments that hold little validity, in my opinion. They want to make the "trade secrets" argument, but I think it's pretty clear that the only "trade secret" they have may be their vitrification solution recipe, and Johnson hasn't revealed that to anyone, as far as I know. I think it will be difficult for them to argue "trade secrets," when they have been singing the "transparency" song for so long, and have published almost every detail of their operations and procedures, on the Internet.

There's the related issue of them claiming Johnson has provided the public with information that may give their competition an unfair advantage. That's just plain silly, as there really is no competition, other than, maybe, CI, and I don't think Johnson gave CI any information they didn't already have. In fact, Ben Best was recently at Alcor, where they supposedly asked him to sign an NDA, and showed him around. In other words, they may have allowed their only competition to come in the Alcor facility and view whatever it is they are claiming as "trade secrets." In addition, many people with connections to Alcor have claimed that Johnson's publicity has HELPED Alcor gain an increase in membership, in the past.

Then, Alcor resorts to the NDA, and other related issues. Their attorneys state that Platt "unequivocally" claims Johnson signed an NDA, but he did no such thing, and Johnson's attorney picked right up on that. As she writes, Platt carefully parsed his words in a manner that would avoid possibly committing perjury. He states he called someone at Alcor, and asked them to look in Johnson's employee file, for an NDA. I can only imagine this same thing happened, when he accused me of stealing a non-existent NDA, at SA. Johnson's attorney, apparently, has an imagination similar to mine, and has done her homework. She includes the agreement/apology, Platt posted on CF and Cryonet, in response to my threats to take legal action, in regard to the lies and/or malicious "speculations" that were being made, in attempts to discredit me, (See her "Exhibit 9).

Finally, Alcor wants to cry about the restraining orders against Johnson, but it appears they never properly served him. Johnson's attorney points out that a process server relayed to Alcor that the address where he was to be served was a "bad address," but Alcor proceeded to send Certified Mail there, and when it wasn't returned, put forth that Johnson had been properly served.

It should be interesting to find out what the judge thinks of these motions, in tomorrow's hearing. So far, I have the score as "Johnson 2, Alcor 0." Regardless of the outcome, the book is out and Johnson has already made the interview rounds. All Alcor is doing, in my opinion, is wasting a lot of money, making themselves look deceptive and foolish, and promoting Johnson's book.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cryonics Institute "Neuros" Better Than Alcor

What's that you say? CI doesn't do neuros? Au contraire, mon ami.

I believe most of CI's patients are "neuros." They isolate the head vessels, so the brain can be selectively-perfused with cryoprotective agents. This is superior to Alcor's practices, for several reasons, but the two major ones are:

1. CI's procedures are relatively simple vascular cannulations performed by a licensed embalmer, as opposed to Alcor's decapitations, which I'm told are often performed by staff members with little more than high school diplomas and overblown egos. (The word "megalomania" comes to mind.) This is a HUGE public relations mistake, if nothing else. I think it probably qualifies as "mutilation," and wonder why Alcor wasn't shut down a long time ago.

2. A decapitation results in a LOT of vascular damage, which most likely results in poor perfusion, (especially when carried out by laymen wielding Craftsman hammers and praying for electric carving knives). Read the Ted Williams case report, in the Johnson book, and you will see they documented the perfusate was coming out from virtually everywhere EXCEPT where it was supposed to be, and my guess is, this has probably been true for most of their cases.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bill Faloon is Just as Much of a "Sensationalist" as Larry Johnson

In response to this article, by William Faloon, of Life Extension Foundation:

I've been wondering, for nearly three years, now, if Bill Faloon was actually aware of the situation at the organizations he has been funding. I even sent a letter to his house, not that long ago, (which went unanswered, of course). Now, he appears with nothing more than the usual "smoke and mirrors" that have spewed forth from Alcor, and the LEF-funded organizations, for decades.

Faloon is comparing cryonics patients to people are being embalmed, buried, cremated, autopsied or decomposing, instead of to patients who undergo circulatory arrest procedures, in conventional medicine, and wake up again. There is no reason for anyone to be concerned with the "gruesomeness" of death, in a cryonics context. Unlike cryonics patients, no one expects the people who are being embalmed, buried, cremated, autopsied or decomposing, to wake up again!!! His entire comparison, (though quite eloquent), is absurd and meaningless. In fact, it's so ridiculous, I can barely bring myself to respond to it. (Maybe he felt the same, about my letter.)

Cryonics has a solid foundation in the hypothermic procedures, which have been performed by heart teams, for many decades. I participated in these procedures, for nearly a decade, myself. There is nothing "gruesome" about performing cannulations and perfusion, (the procedures SA and ALCOR are attempting to perform). Most of the time, it's barely even messy! Why does Faloon want to pretend that the only alternatives to the amateurish cryonics procedures he and his friends have been providing to cryonics patients, are the gruesome processes of death, when the logical alternative is to hire competent individuals who can provide quality patient care equivalent to that provided in conventional hypothermic procedures performed on the living?
(Note: Yes, I realize the "neuros" will be "gruesome", regardless, and personally, I am against the industry decapitating patients. CI, technically, performs "neuros," without decapitation, by isolating the head vessels. If ALCOR insists on doing "neuros," they should consider that route. Even if they insist on decapitation, I don't believe it needs to be anywhere near as gruesome and insane as what I have read about in ALCOR's case reports, but what else can we expect when people, sometimes with nothing more than high school diplomas and maybe a little "OJT," are allowed to chop off heads?)

Faloon: "Reality is that cryopreservation involves complex surgery whereby tubes are inserted into major arteries and veins in order to deliver special anti-freeze solutions into the brain."

The actual reality is that Suspended Animation, (the company Faloon helps fund through Life Extension Foundation, and which is but a short distance from Faloon's home), has been attempting to provide the most simple version of cannulation and perfusion, and failing miserably, for seven years, now. In spite of a grossly-extravagant payroll, they don't even have a staff member who is capable of competently inserting the tubes (cannulae) into major arteries and veins, (performing a femoral cannulation), or performing perfusion. If I were to tell any of the people I have worked with, in heart surgery, that one of the most prominent figures in cryonics is trying to pass off a femoral cannulation and the simple perfusion SA is attempting to perform, as "complex," they would laugh.

Faloon: "Cryonics is merely less gruesome than anything else that is done to a corpse."

Again, Faloon is comparing cryonics patients to corpses, while I would prefer to compare them to my patients in heart surgery, people who had plans to wake up again, after they were cannulated and perfused, (and 96-97% of them did).

Faloon: "I hope this essay helps put cryo-preservation in perspective with more mutilating and appalling forms of disposition that deceased humans are exposed to every day. It should serve to educate the media that ALCOR patients are not being mutilated or “abused” by the complex protocols that are used to provide them with the best scientific opportunity of future revival, whatever the probability may be."

Can Bill Faloon explain exactly why he is willing to fund hiring just about anyone off the street to perform what he calls "complex (medical) protocols," instead of insisting on the hiring of competent professionals? ALCOR patients, and Suspended Animation patients ARE being abused, by the amateurs who "play doctor" with them, and I believe any medical professional who has worked in conventional medicine, performing vascular cannulations and/or perfusion, would testify to that. The Ted Williams case report is only one example of the abuse, and there are plenty of others. (This is not the full report, but the rest of it is just as ridiculously insane.)

I'm still left wondering if Bill Faloon actually knows how atrocious the level of patient care ALCOR and Suspended Animation provide really is. He's either deceptive or in denial, or he doesn't have a clue as to how good these procedures COULD be. He's seen cannulations and perfusion in the context of death, but I've seen them in the context of life. Which do cryonicists want, at the time of their "legal death"...something of the quality that dead people receive, or cannulations and perfusion of a quality such as that provided in heart surgery, (where 96-97% of the patients wake up again)?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Most Lame Excuse in Cryonics

It appears, to me, Alcor keeps eight-to-nine fulltime staff members. During the time I was working in cryonics, Suspended Animation (SA) had between six and nine fulltime staff members, (some left, new ones were added), At last count, the anonymous souls at SA numbered six. I believe Critical Care Research (CCR) has four. In addition to these approximately 18 people, there's a lot of money paid to consultants with little-to-no medical and/or scientific education, or experience. What are all these people doing, 40 hours a week? (My guess, based on personal experience is that a lot of them are doing, "not much of anything productive, if anything, at all.")

Alcor recently used the excuse that:

"With only a few cryonics cases scattered across the county (sic) every year, having cryonics-trained medical professions always nearby to perform field stabilization is impossible."

This is an excuse I've heard time, and time again, in cryonics, and that is all it excuse. In most cases, it is just as impossible for them to have their medically UNQUALIFIED personnel, nearby! Cryonicists would be much more wise to make their own local arrangements, for friends, their personal physician and a local mortician to place them in the ice bath, administer and circulate the meds, and ship them on dry ice, than to pay those whiz-kids from SA, (which Alcor now uses as a stabilization team), $60K to travel from South Florida to bungle the cannulation for the washout procedure they are selling, but can't competently provide.

With so few cases, Alcor and LEF should quit paying so many unqualified people to sit around their facilities, 40 hours a week, and use that money to keep some qualified medical professionals on retainer. As for that "cryonics training," it's pretty much a "no-brainer" for medical professionals who know how to perform cannulations and perfusion. They could save a lot of money on training sessions,(that, in my opinion, don't accomplish much of anything), by hiring people who already know what they are doing. (For example, how much has SA spent on those pig-training sessions and the time of unqualified staff members, trying to teach cannulations, when they could have an embalmer competent in performing that procedure, for about half the cost of one of their unqualified staff members?)

SA and Alcor are spending millions of dollars a year. SA wants to charge $60K, and Alcor wants to charge $150K, for their services, and they end up looking like clowns, 99.99% of the time. It would cost a lot less for them to actually provide quality services, than it costs for their lame attempts to make it look like they are providing quality services, when it is abundantly obvious they are not.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Review of Alleged Ted Williams Case Reports Printed in Johnson's Book

Someone related to Ted Williams recently asked for my remarks on the alleged case report for Ted Williams, which was printed in Larry Johnson's book. There are too many spelling and grammatical errors to make sense of much of it but, in my opinion, it clearly paints yet another very clear image of the glaring incompetency rampant in cryonics. Even laymen should be able to see the unprofessionalism in most of it. From the alleged TW case notes, published in Johnson's book:

"Mike is trying to do something on the right." (Brilliant record taking!)

"Mike needs a curving knife!" (No comment necessary.)

"Mike is trying to seal up (the tubes?)" (This person does not have a clue what she is describing, other than Alcor's incompetent staff hacking someone's head off and trying to perfuse it.)

"They are trying to open up some part on the front neck..." (More of the same.)

"...Mike murmured "We need electric curving knife..." (Maybe Mike should have been a chef.)

"The head was completely detouched." (No comment necessary.)

"Mike said lots of drainage coming out from everywhere but not from the jugular..." (If this is accurate, it seems blood was coming out from everywhere EXCEPT where it was supposed to be.)

"Brian said we are not getting any cryoprotectant in the venous. Mike back to the head." (It seems they were putting cryoprotectant in the arterial side, but it wasn't coming out the venous side, as it should.)

"Mike called Jose. Jose came back in. (It seemed to me Jose didn't complete his job.)" (How would Erico Narita know if anyone had completed a surgical task? Her notes make it quite clear she has little knowledge of the procedures and equipment. Throughout the report, I believe she uses various terms, such as "canyon," for "cannula." If Alcor assigns their note-taking to someone who has yet to master the English language, (much less applicable medical terminology), how can we even begin to trust them to assign medical tasks to the appropriate personnel?)

The pressure changes, the pump "making funny noises," Mike noticing one of the tubes is "not getting any fluid," the "reflectometer" that "had air" all seem to indicate air was pumped during the case, (something I'm told happens during most cryopreservations, a grossly negligent perfusion error that has been virtually non-existent, in conventional medicine, for decades).

"No air is coming out from the left side as well, Brian noted." (Just guessing from the phrasing, I would say "No" was supposed to be "Now." Either way, it most likely indicates that air was being pumped into, and exiting the vessels, at some point in time...a definite perfusion "no no.")

"The part of the flowrate was incorrect, because bypass line was open." (There's a bypass line that should be closed, when flowing to the patient. When the bypass line is open, a portion of the flow that is supposed to be going to the patient is being diverted to the venous (return) line, without ever reaching the patient. It's not clear when they turned on the perfusion pump, as it's not always clear as to what flows and/or pressures they are referring to, but they document starting the ramping of the cryoprotectant agent, at 22:02. No one noticed the bypass line was open, (a perfusion error), until sometime between 23:21 and 23:27, more than an hour later (79-85 minutes later). Does this seem acceptable for a company that had been in existence for approximately THREE DECADES??? Does this seem like a company that should expect people to believe they can preserve the "legally dead" well enough to be awakened in the future??? Would YOU pay THEM $150K to take perform your cryopreservation?

(The "Mike" being referred to is Michael "Mike Darwin" Federowicz.)

ABC Nightline Received False Information on Behalf of Alcor

There is a well-known story, in cryonics, about an HIV+/AIDS, patient, whose death was allegedly hastened by staff member(s) of Alcor. I've heard the story, I believe it was told in Kunzman's book, (Mothermelters). Larry Johnson told the same story, in his book, and he has audiotapes of an Alcor staff member discussing it. They played those tapes on ABC Nightline, last night. They also said someone claiming to be that patient's nurse called in, yesterday, to claim the patient died in his bedroom, with only the nurse and his partner present. I can only find one 1992 Alcor case report, in which an HIV+/AIDS, patient died, and it is very well-document BY ALCOR, that that patient died in a garage, just as Johnson and others have said.

From the Alcor Case Report for Case A-1260, in May 1992:
(Note: As per Alcor's report, "Nick" is a fictitious name.)

"The only feasible location for set-up was a garage located about 60 feet from the front door up a steep street. Considering that it took us over two minutes to move the last patient about six feet, there was concern over the ischemic time such a move would cause if Nick were pronounced in his bed.

That day, with Jim's assistance, Hugh and Keith cleaned out the garage, moved in several oxygen bottles, built a plastic enclosure large enough to hold the MALSS cart by stapling plastic sheeting to the ceiling beams, and installed 2000 watts of lighting. Typically, this would not be necessary, since most houses have at least one doorway that will admit the MALSS cart. So, while it was kind of rough and ready, the nurse who pronounced Nick when the time came commented that he had certainly seen worse set-up's used for operating rooms in Vietnam."

The logistics of moving our patient downstairs resulted in more discussion, arguments, and testing than any other aspect of the whole transport. (Mike missed this because he was in the garage priming the MALSS cart.) Keith's suggestion of using a gurney was tried with an empty gurney, but the required 70-degree angle looked so scary that nobody was willing to be a test subject. Hugh`s suggestion of a fireman's carry was ruled out because a slip on the carpeted stairs might seriously hurt both the patient and the carrier. We finally tried and settled on Carlos's proposal, with Max on one arm, Paul on the other, Hugh taking Nick's feet under his arms, and Keith holding his head. We got him downstairs without any problems (good suggestion, Carlos), onto the gurney, and (in our white Alcor lab coats) wheeled him up the street into the garage."

Judging from information on Alcor's website, this appears to be the ONLY Alcor case, in 1992, involving an HIV or AIDS patient:


A-1260 19 Mar 1992 Neuro Case Report: Alcor handles an HIV case.

A-1171 Michael Friedman 01 Jun 1992 Brain and rest of body stored separately Case Report: An Alcor member is murdered (and worse yet, shot in the head).

A-1184 19 Jun 1992 Whole Body Case Report: Lessons learned from ischemic time that could have been avoided.

A-1367 Jim Glennie 24 Jun 1992 Neuro Case Report: An unusually extensive non-technical report on a near-textbook case See also A Well-Loved Man, a personal account by Jim's wife, Mary Margaret Glennie.

A-1410 James Hourihan 27 Jul 1992 Neuro Case Report: An extended standby in Massachusetts."

Here are the people who were on the "Transport Team" when A-1260 died:
"Transport Team:

Hugh Hixon: Transport Team Leader, Surgical assistant
Mike Darwin: Oversight, Consultant, Femoral Cutdown
Arel Lucas: Airway Management, Temperature Probe Placement
Tanya Jones, Medications, Scribe
Max More: Scribe, Airway Relief
Paul Wakfer: Logistics Support, Airway Relief, MALSS Monitoring
Carlos Mondragon, Film and Video Recording
Leonard Zubkoff: HLR Operator, Oxygen Supplies Management
Keith Henson, Carpenter Assistant, O.R. Nurse, MALSS Monitoring"

I suggest Nightline tracks down the person who claims to have been the nurse present when the AIDS patient died, with his partner, in his bedroom, and verify the situation, because it seems, to me, that Alcor's only HIV or AIDS patient that died in 1992, died in a garage. Nightline might also use the photos in Alcor's case report, to attempt to verify the location. (There are copies of the case report, in case it disappears from the Internet.)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Re-inventing More Wheels, in Cryonics

(The "bottom line" of this post is, "If you want to develop a complex perfusion procedure, you start out with the existing technology, and at least one good perfusionist.")

Aschwin de Wolf quotes below, (in navy blue italics) are from:

Aschwin de Wolf: "Where this criticism can go off track, however, is when it is insufficiently recognized that knowledge of conventional medicine is a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition to do good cryonics."

I know Aschwin means well, when he writes something like this, but it's a misconception on the part of self-taught "cryonics experts" to believe they can perform variations of existing conventional medical procedures, simply by having read about them, and/or having practiced on a couple of animals, or cryonics patients. People do NOT learn to do good cannulation procedures, or perfusion, without extensive, SUPERVISED experience. Cryonics procedures are simply variations of existing conventional medical procedures; they are not something totally new and unique.

In regard to Alcor's computerized system, they still need a qualified perfusionist to operate such a system. There's a reason why perfusion is not fully-automated, in conventional medicine, and to think it can be fully-automated in cryonics, to the point of being performed by amateurs, is extremely naive. This reminds me of a joke a friend of my mother's told me, when I was 13. A transatlantic flight had just taken off, and the following message came over the loudspeaker: Good morning ladies and gentleman. You have the privilege of being aboard the world's first fully-automated airplane. Decades of research have resulted in this state-of-the-art aircraft that will immediately adjust to any and all flight conditions. Please sit back and relax, with the knowledge that nothing can go wrong, nothing can go wrong, nothing can go wrong, nothing can go wrong, nothing can go wrong, nothing can go wrong..."

Aschwin de Wolf:""Alcor has decided to develop a system that not only uses software to record perfusion parameters (concentration, pressure, temperature, refractive index etc.) but to use the same software to control them as well. Provided that this new system lives up to its expectations, this development will be a major step towards a system that can use real-time feedback to adjust perfusion parameters in a manner that so far has only been available in small organ cryobiological research. The data that will be generated during cases can, in turn, be used to create cases reports that follow a consistent, formal standard. When these reports are used in an intelligent fashion, the prospect of developing technologies and protocols that can reduce the high variability in patient care will be feasible."

Alcor isn't doing anything new, here. Heart-lung machines have been responding to, and recording, all of these parameters, with the single exception of refractive index, for many years, now. To state that "real-time feedback to adjust perfusion parameters...has only been available in small organ cryobiological research" is extremely uninformed. This is yet another example of people in cryonics attempting to "reinvent the wheel," rather than building on existing technology, another situation in which the cryo-orgs are going to pay a bundle to a handful of individuals to attempt to do what the companies building perfusion equipment can do, and have done, better, and probably at a much lower cost than all those DIY'ers who brought cryonics the six-figure vinyl PIB liner. Three years ago, I wrote a report, for Saul Kent, and had a subsequent discussion with him, describing how we should investigate adapting a computerized heart-lung machine, to perform the ramping based on refractive index feedback, and informed him that some heart-lung machines would already record, and respond to, the other needed parameters. I don't know why my suggestion didn't go far, other than maybe it didn't involve a science fiction writer and materials from Home Depot.

Aschwin de Wolf: "One of the worst scenarios for the future of cryonics is one in which regulators impose standards upon cryonics organizations that actually increase the challenges of providing good patient care; something that has happened already in the case of the Cryonics Institute when the organization was forced to perform a complex technical procedure like cryoprotective perfusion at a funeral home."

I, totally, disagree with the situation at Cryonics Institute being a negative one. Throughout history, organizations such as Alcor and SA have allowed just about anybody off the street to perform these "complex technical procedures" that could be performed, with ease, by qualified medical professionals who are experienced with cannulations and perfusion.

More and more, each day, I am convince that regulation is the ONLY way the science of cryonics is going to progress.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

In Kent's Own Words

Saul Kent: "When cryobiologists contend we are damaging
our patients too much to permit future reanimation, we criticize
them for failing to take into account the potential of future repair
methods. In doing so, we fail to appreciate that we are, similarly,
failing to take into account the severity of the damage our
methods cause. Until we have solid evidence that we can
preserve the brain well enough to retain enough information to
maintain our identities, it is inappropriate, I believe, for us to
criticize cryobiologists over their opinion that future repair of
today's frozen patients will be impossible. Without the
evidence that we can effectively preserve ourselves, the
cryobiologists are not only entitled to their negative opinions
about cryonics, but we don't have the slightest chance
of changing their minds!"

Kent might, at least, begin to change the minds of cryobiologists, (and others), if he would send qualified, experienced personnel, capable of performing femoral cannulations and perfusion, without causing more damage than is necessary. When he sends a bunch of bumbling amateurs, who take hours to do a simple cannulation, (and, then, probably don't get it right), and doesn't guarantee a qualified perfusionist will show up for the washout procedure, he is subjecting his organization to well-deserved ridicule. The Suspended Animation Inc. (SA) personnel make both Kent and Faloon look rather foolish, like they don't know what they are doing.

Isn't it time for Kent and Faloon to REALLY do "the best they can"?

The Suspended Animation (SA) Research Myth

Recently found on the Internet:

"In addition to the publicity, long-time backers of cryonics like Saul Kent of the Life Extension Foundation are putting more money and time into pushing the cryonics industry forward into the 21st century. This makes sense for them, based on the arguments I put foward at the top of this page. They have thought long and hard about the likelihood of living long enough to benefit from the medical technologies of the future, and decided to put more effort into cryonics. One result of this renewed funding is Suspended Animation, a cryonics company that focuses more on research than providing services," another the work of Twenty-First Century Medicine towards a demonstration of reversible cryonic suspension." (Appears to have been written in April 2008.)

More propaganda from the LEF machine. As far as anyone knows, SA does not perform any legitimate scientific research likely to advance the science of cryonics. In my opinion, they mostly focus on sending laymen to perform medical procedures, for which they want to charge a lot of money.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Is Suspended Animation, Inc. Doing Animal Procedures in Boynton Beach Facility?

"Liquid Nitrogen-based Cryoprotectant Chiller
A powerful but compact chiller with a small footprint is desirable for use in the operating room for cooling cryoprotectant perfusion circuits. Suspended Animation has developed such a chiller about the size of a compact, desktop laser printer. It is currently in use at SA for cooling a cryoprotection training circuit used with pig cadavers.

The next generation of this chiller may be used for patient cryoprotection in SA's operating room and for field-level cryoprotection in the future
." (Emphasis added.)

Is any type of approval needed for these activities? If so, does SA have such approval?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Alleged "Research" of Alcor and Suspended Animation

There are people who maintain that Alcor and Suspended Animation, Inc. are engaging in scientific research. Personally, I don't think many scientists would consider what they are doing to be legitimate research, (and, not because it involves cryonics, but because it is so damn sloppy). Their "research reports" are, for the most part, rambling narratives that describe a bunch of amateurs attemping to perform well-established medical procedures, they are not qualified to perform, nothing more.

Has anyone working at these two organizations ever heard of things like...

The Scientific Method?

Dependent variables?

Independent variables?

Control groups? (And, don't tell me the control group is in the cemetery.)


Reproducibility? How would anyone reproduce what Alcor and/or SA do, in any of their cases? They don't even appear to know what they are doing, most of the time, and thus far, there seems to be little reliable documentation. For example, in CI-81, none of the SA team members, or advisors, even knew how much heparin had been given, and some of the medications were spilled on the floor of a vehicle they were in.

In my opinion, SA's washouts and Alcor's cryopreservations are not "research," any more than the heart surgeries I particpated in were "research." These are medical procedures, not research. Alcor and SA are bumbling along, attemping to perform femoral cannulations and perfusion, (medical procedures that were virtually perfected decades ago), without much success. If you ask me, it's just a bunch of laymen, "playing doctor."

Maybe Alcor has hopes someone will perform research on the people they are cryopreserving, in the future, but for now, what Alcor and SA are doing looks a lot more like sloppy embalming, to me.

Suspended Animation Plans Cryopreservation Procedures for Boynton Beach Facility

From the Suspended Animation website:

"SA will perform vitrification procedures, followed by rapid cooling at our facility, and low-temperature ground transport to the patient’s cryonics organization. This scenario will be appropriate where the patient is closer or can be transported to the SA facility more quickly than they can reach their cryonics facility."

What are the applicable regulations for their facility?
What do they plan to do with their biohazardous waste?
Are they familiar with regulations that will apply to traveling across numerous state lines, to Arizona, or Michigan?

(All questions I asked, as an SA employee, so they've had nearly three years to think about these things.)

And about that "low-temperature ground transport," that was a suggestion yours truly made, as an SA employee, in a report to Saul Kent in 2006. My second blog entry, on July 9, 2007 was a reprint of that report, (perhaps, with minor revisions):

"In discussing the cooldown and long-distance cryogenic transport of patients, the advantages of transporting patients in a vehicle, (rather than dealing with the transport issues and regulations associated with using commercial aircraft, or delivery services such as FedEx), was considered. The Sprinter might be suitable for this purpose. It’s comfortable and economical, and really not of much use in other capacities, once the build-out of the larger vehicle is completed. In addition, the use of the Sprinter for cryogenic transport would provide the added advantage of continuous patient monitoring by personnel in the vehicle, something that would be unavailable when using commercial shipping. SA should consider studies of the feasibility and projected cost of converting the Sprinter for cryogenic transport, and make comparisons to other methods of cryogenic shipping. If it is not suitable for cryogenic transport, it should be replaced with a van suitable for rapidly deploying standby equipment and personnel to the airport."

I don't recall any feedback on my suggestion, other than a consultant raising hell because I didn't clear my report with him, before sending it to Saul. (I believe I was a "co-manager" at the time, but that didn't seem to mean anything to the consultant.)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Suspended Animation's Medication Protocol

I was recently told that someone asked for Suspended Animation's medications protocol and was told, (allegedly, by SA manager Catherine Baldwin), that they would have to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), in order to get it. Here are SA's meds, (from their own CI-81 case report):

1 Heparin 30,000 IU + Anticoagulant
2 Propofol 20 mg General Anaesthetic
3 Streptokinase 250,000 IU Fibrinolytic
4 Vasopressin 200 IU Vasopressor
5 Aspirin (Aspegic) 200 mg Antiplatelet
6 Epinephrine 30 mg Vasopressor
7 SMT 400 mg i-NOS Inhibitor
8 Ketorolac 7.5 mg Anti-inflammatory
9 Gentamicin 80 mg Antibiotic
10 Vital-Oxy 80 ml Free Radical Scavenger Cocktail
11 Dextran 40 250 ml Volume Expander
12 THAM (0.6M) <250>

+ Exact dosage of heparin is unknown.
* An unknown quantity of THAM was spilled on the floor of the vehicle.

The following 5 stabilization medications and fluids were not administered but should have
been administered:
NiKy consisting of Niacinimide, 500 mg, a PARP-inhibitor, and L-Kynurenine, 1 g,
an exitotoxicity-inhibitor
Citrate Dextrose, a calcium chelator / anticoagulant / solvent for L-Kynurenine
Mannitol, 100 g (500 ml), an osmotic agent
Maalox, an antacid

Note the use of the general anesthetic, propofol, the medication recently associated with the death of Michael Jackson. Why might they be using this drug? I was told they included it, because they were afraid their efforts might resuscitate a "legally dead" patient. I seriously doubt this, but I had an answer for that issue, when I was working at SA. I made my suggestion, several times, both before, and after, my resignation.

If they would stop administering oxygen, it would achieve several goals:

1. Eliminate the possibility of reviving a "legally dead" patient.
2. Minimize reperfusion injury.
3. Avoid legal ramifications.

Use your heads, people!!!

Cold Filter Forum is Like SA

At Suspended Animation, (SA), we used to have these staff meetings, where we discussed the on-going projects. Whenever someone objected to any of the projects, the discussion went pretty much nowhere. (And, no, I wasn't the only person objecting to Platt's projects, cryonicists Sullivan and de Wolf frequently had the same objections.) I don't know why we ever bothered to complain, as it was pointless. All that resulted was a lot of cowardly subversion, with Platt recruiting some of his highly-paid RUP's to help him (sometimes secretly) continue the projects, and somehow convincing Kent they were being productive. It's pretty much the same situation, on this forum. I come here and make valid arguments against what SA is doing, and Platt takes impressionable people behind the scenes, in private emails, where no one can refute his claims, and I end up fighting a never-ending battle of one "Luke" at a time. That's in addition to the lies that were told about me, and the personal attacks that were made on me, (and, that's pretty much the same as what went on, at SA, too...Sullivan, de Wolf and I, (and even some of the RUP's, on occasion), were frequent targets of character assassinations).

I've tried to walk away from cryonics, several times. When I quit SA, I didn't have anything to say about them, (other than to my husband and a couple of cryo-friends), for more than four months. I had other dragons to slay, and I really just wanted to put the stupidity of it all (SA) behind me. But, every day I thought about it...about how they were lying about their capabilities, and about how I felt Platt had totally, and absolutely, resisted any change that might have resulted in him logging fewer $50 hours, even if it would have meant we would have been taking steps toward a better level of patient care, and I got more and more angry, until I could no longer ignore the situation.

At some point, I realized how harshly I had treated a couple of people at SA, who are just ordinary people making a lot of money doing what their bosses have told them to do, and I tried to walk away, again. Then, I realized, (all over again), that maintaining the salaries of a few unqualified people does not justify harming patients, not even "legally dead" ones. Some of the people at SA are quite intelligent and talented in other areas, but they don't have the backgrounds required to carry out the procedures SA is selling, and I don't think the cryonics industry should suffer, so that these people can maintain their lifestyles. SA needs experienced people who can gain IV access on patients with no blood pressure, perform femoral cannulations and competently perform perfusion. With the money they have at their disposal, there's no excuse for them to be sending unskilled patient care providers.

Platt, de Wolf and I, (who were all at SA, together), could have probably rocked the world of cryonics, if he hadn't seen Aschwin and me as "the enemy." I had a lot of knowledge about the procedures we were supposed to be doing, Aschwin's talents are obvious on his "Depressed Metabolism" blog, and in addition to his writing and computer-related skills, Platt had a lot of influence with Kent. Unfortunately, Platt didn't want anything to change, at SA, and he fought everything Aschwin and I tried to do, "tooth and nail." Apparently, he was afraid that, if his amateur design and fabrication projects dried up, he would be out of a good income, though I don't think that's true. Platt probably believed deWolf and I simply wanted to get rid of him, but that's not true, either, (at least it wasn't, in the beginning). We just wanted him to do things differently, in ways that didn't defy common sense.

If I had it to do all over again, I would ask Kent AND Faloon to come spend a week in a room with Platt, de Wolf and me, and I would bring along a lot of documentation, and maybe even a medical professional, or two. Unfortunately, we can't go back to that time, and I don't seem to be able to let it go, and I'm really getting tired of fighting this battle one "Luke" at a time, with Platt always behind the scenes. Regardless, I won't walk away, again. I may walk in a new direction, but I won't walk away.

Now, my apologies to the moderator...As I recall, I'm not supposed to mention the name "Platt," but that is what this situation with Luke is all about. It's a replay of the situation, at SA, with me standing in the middle of the room, publicly stating SA's projects are beyond misguided and the cryo-equivalent of medical malpractice, and Platt taking people behind the scenes and convincing them, one at a time, that all is good. There's a reason people like Kent, Baldwin, and Platt won't publicly respond to my accusations of incompetence, and that reason should be quite obvious, to everyone.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"Warts and All" - Cryonics Case Reports

This post is dedicated to Saul Kent.

"As to your question of whether Saul Kent wants case reports on cryonics standby cases done, if you have to ask, you don't know the man. For a time, several years ago during the Waynick Alcor administration, Kent actually offered cash bounties out of his own pocket for full Alcor case reports to be done and published. This resulted in some getting done, but others are still hanging fire even now, and quite a lot of this bounty money still remains collectable but uncollected-- a matter of some thousands of dollars. If you want to know the details of why not, you can ask Alcor; that story is not mine to tell. However, suffice to say that SA case reports will certainly be done, warts and all. Everyone at SA understands how critical such things are, for quality control reasons. That includes, perhaps more than anyone else, Saul Kent."

Steve Harris

(A special thanks, to "Phil," for reminding me of this Harris post.)

Today is September 3, 2009, and Suspended Animation, Inc., (a company funded by LEF/Kent), has yet to publish a case report for Curtis Henderson (CI-95), for the procedures an SA team performed on Mr. Henderson, June 25th, more than two months ago. Where are your "warts," Mr. Kent???

Since Phil reminded me of the Harris remarks, others have verified that Kent has often criticized Alcor for not producing timely case reports. One person maintains that some of the reports were produced, but didn't live up to Kent's standards. They seem to think he would prefer something like one of Platt's monstrosities, filled with irrelevant subjective material, to an objective reporting of the facts.

Thus far, most cryonics case reports have been subjective, rambling narratives, of little merit. Subjective reporting is "sometimes completely false, and "destructive in decision making," while objective information is "as close to the truth as we can get," and "helpful in decision making.

We didn't need to know most of the information in SA's CI-81 case report. We didn't need to know one of the people who didn't show up had a job at a local supermarket, or that a former employee wasn't there because she "refused to make herself available to assist in future cases even as an independent contractor," (especially since that last part was untrue...I am the "former employee" being referred to, and as I recall, no one ever asked me to take call as an independent contractor).

We didn't need speculations like: "The batteries in one of the voice recorders may have lost their charge as a result of someone failing to switch off the recorder after a practice session." That wasn't a fact, it was nothing more than a lame excuse for showing up with dead batteries. Cryonics case reports are rife with lame excuses, like this.

Case reports shouldn't include discussions about equipment that isn't even brought to the case, or remarks about the team members being best buddies. You won't read, "Though rewarming from 18-degrees C, took a long time, the heart team all got along well, with the perfusionist and surgeon amusing the other team members with off-color jokes," in a heart surgery case report, though something like that probably happens, a lot, near the end of profound hypothermia cases.

You will see the "warts." You'll read about the time a scrub nurse accidentally threw a vessel intended for a graft off the table and the patient's leg had to be reopened. You'll read about the anesthesia nurse who inappropriately applied pressure to a transfusion bag and filled the patient's heart with air, causing him to "crash and burn" and requiring him to be placed back on the heart-lung machine. (The patient lived to tell about it, because the anesthesia nurse admitted to what he had done, the second he saw the patient's pressure drop and realized what had happened.)

Medical case reports are not intended to be "stories," they are meant to convey a factual representation of the case. They serve several purposes, one of which is to facilitat comparing cases. It should be obvious that the only way to do this is to have uniform reports. It's not as easy to compare the apples in Chef A's Cajun Apple Cobbler, to the apples in Chef B's Apple Walnut Celebration Pie, as it is to compare apples used in identical recipes.

There should be standardized forms, for cryonics case reporting. Aschwin de Wolf and I tried to establish this, at SA, and we caught no small amount of hell, for doing so, from a man who has probably billed cryonics organizations for quite a number of his hours for writing rambling, subjective case reports that contain more "padding" than any professor teaching freshman "Comp and Rhetoric" courses probably sees, in an entire year.

In heart surgery, (something much more complex than a cryonics washout procedure), the reports are in a standard form, and produced immediately after the procedure, by the medical personnel involved in the case, (not three months later, by a science fiction writer who wasn't even present for the case).

I can look at any heart surgery case report and tell a lot about the case, immediately. I can tell you who the personnel were, when the first incision was made, when they went "on pump," when the cross-clamp was applied to the aorta, when they started cooling, how many grafts were done, where each graft came from and where it was placed, when they started warming and how long it took, exactly what medications were administered (including the amounts and time of administration), and a lot of other information about the case, the most important being variations from the norm.

From the perfusion record, I can tell you the perfusion flow rates, a number of temperatures, patient pressures, perfusion circuit pressures, arterial and venous blood gases, how much oxygen was being applied, ACT's, HCT's, (all of these, at approximately ten-minute intervals, throughout the pump (perfusion) run), and more, including how long the patient was "on pump," how much fluid was added, (or removed), etc.

From the anesthesia record, I can tell you everything you want to know about the medications that were administered by the anesthesia team, and a vast amount of information regarding the patient's condition, throughout the case.

A lot of the information will be duplicated on all the records. For instance, the "on pump," "cross-clamp," and "off-pump" times will be called out, and documented by anesthesia, the perfusionist, and the circulating nurse. (The surgeon will ask for those times, (and other information), before he does his dictation.
And, one more thing...there should not be any photos. I believe publishing images of themselves in scrubs, attempting to perform medical procedures they don't really know how to do, probably helps some of the people working in cryonics to maintain the illusion, (or self-delusion), that they really are medical professionals, when most of them are incompetent to the point of inflicting a tremendous amount of harm on their patients.

So, Mr. Kent, if you want timely and productive case reports, you should hire some medical professionals who actually know how to perform the procedures you are selling, at SA. Then, your personnel would be capable of properly documenting the procedures, and producing timely reports that could be used to compare cases. On the other hand, if you want to be entertained by a rambling, inaccurate narrative, with a lot of extraneous information, hire a fiction writer who will make up a story based on information he receives from care providers who don't really know what they are doing. already made that decision.

I think LEF/Saul Kent are excellent proof that people don't always get what they pay for. LEF could fund competent medical care, for a lot less than what is being spent at SA.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Embalming and Cryonics

1 : to treat (a dead body) so as to protect from decay
2 : to fill with sweet odors : perfume
3 : to protect from decay or oblivion : preserve
4 : to fix in a static condition

Are Alcor and Suspended Animation illegally "embalming"? (Cryonics Institute is licensed as a cemetery. Their procedures are conducted at a licensed funeral establishment, under the supervision of a licensed funeral director/embalmer, and monitored by the State of Michigan.)

Alcor and Suspended Animation may attempt to defend their activities by calling their procedures "medical research," but I believe any state board familiar with what they are doing, and the qualifications, (or lack thereof), of their care providers, will agree with me that their activities cannot be qualified as "medical research." I say they are (possibly illegally) preserving dead bodies, (embalming).

After a little research, I have ascertained that embalmers must be licensed in all 50 states. I am not going to research the regulations of all 50 states, but the states I have researched all require a formal education, (some from 2 - 4 years), an internship, (most of at least one year), and passing a local and/or national certification exam. Violation of embalming regulations result in possible jail time and/or fines, for each incident, in all of the states I have researched.

After the Dora Kent case, Alcor was accused of murder, illegally practicing medicine, and the theft of equipment from UCLA. None of these accusations held up, but as far as I know, they have never been accused of illegally embalming, a charge I believe would hold up.

As for SA, not only might they be illegally embalming, but in recent years, they have had laymen, (people who would not be allowed to legally administer drugs to patients, or embalm), traveling across state lines, carrying regulated medications, in order to do so.

From Florida Statute 497.368, (with emphasis added):

497.368 Embalmers; licensure as an embalmer by examination; provisional license.--

(1) Any person desiring to be licensed as an embalmer shall apply to the licensing authority to take the licensure examination. The licensing authority shall examine each applicant who has remitted an examination fee set by rule of the licensing authority not to exceed $200 plus the actual per applicant cost to the licensing authority for portions of the examination and who has:

(a) Completed the application form and remitted a nonrefundable application fee set by the licensing authority not to exceed $200.

(b) Submitted proof satisfactory to the licensing authority that the applicant is at least 18 years of age and is a recipient of a high school degree or equivalent.

(c) Made disclosure of the applicant's criminal records, if any, as required by s. 497.142. The applicant shall submit fingerprints in accordance with s. 497.142. The applicant may not be licensed under this section unless the licensing authority determines the applicant is of good character and has no demonstrated history of lack of trustworthiness or integrity in business or professional matters.

(d) Completed a course in mortuary science approved by the licensing authority, which course embraces, at least, the following subjects: theory and practice of embalming, restorative art, pathology, anatomy, microbiology, chemistry, hygiene, and public health and sanitation.

(e) Submitted proof of completion of a course on communicable diseases approved by the licensing authority.

(2) The licensing authority shall license the applicant as an embalmer if the applicant:

(a) Passes an examination on the subjects of the theory and practice of embalming, restorative art, pathology, anatomy, microbiology, chemistry, hygiene, public health and sanitation, and local, state, and federal laws and rules relating to the disposition of dead human bodies; however, there may by rule be approved by the licensing authority the use of a national examination, such as the embalming examination prepared by the Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards, in lieu of part of this examination requirement; and

(b) Completes a 1-year internship under a licensed embalmer.

(3) Any applicant who has completed the required 1-year internship and has been approved for examination as an embalmer may qualify for a provisional license to work in a licensed funeral establishment, under the direct supervision of a licensed embalmer for a limited period of 6 months as provided by rule of the licensing authority. The fee for provisional licensure shall be set by rule of the licensing authority, but may not exceed $200, and shall be nonrefundable and in addition to the fee required in subsection (1). This provisional license may be renewed no more than one time.

From Arizona Statute 32-1322 B, (with emphasis added):

B. An applicant for licensure as an embalmer shall:

1. Pass the funeral service science section of the national board examination or the state equivalent examination.

2. Pass the embalmer state laws and rules examination.

3. Be of good moral character.

4. Have been licensed as an intern for at least one year.

5. Have successfully completed an internship program that included assisting in the embalming of at least twenty-five dead human bodies.

These are just the regulations in Alcor and SA's home states. Both organizations have traveled outside their states, to perform procedures. Call me "overly cautious," but if I were managing a cryonics facility, I would do anything, and everything, to comply with state and federal regulations, for fear of negligence, or illegal activities, shutting down the entire cryonics industry. People working in cryonics aren't going to be able to put on their scrubs, or white lab coats, and believe this transforms them into professionals capable of performing advanced medical procedures, or gives them the authority to do things like declare people dead and commence preservation procedures, forever. Eventually, someone will stop these behaviors, and it won't be pretty, for the cryonics industry, as a whole.

If I were Bill Faloon, or Saul Kent, I would take part of the ~$2M a year I was spending for a lot of unqualified personnel and questionable "research," at SA and CCR, and spend it on establishing relationships with licensed embalmers in all the states in which I had clients. Better yet, I would investigate whether it was possible to acquire embalmers who are licensed in multiple states. While I was doing this, I would have a team investigating how to move the procedures into mainstream medicine, where they could be carried out by vascular surgeons, perfusionists, and other competent, qualified, medical personnel.

I believe LEF is supporting ten employees at SA and CCR, combined. When I resigned from SA, there were seven of us, all putting in 40-hour weeks, plus at least one consultant who told me he was allowed to log 160 hours per month. Taking into consideration that the SA employees are allowed four weeks of vacation, per year, that was approximately 15,360 man hours, per year. I've been there, and I feel an EXTREMELY large percentage, (the vast majority, in my opinion), of those hours were absolutely wasted. I felt some people were being paid to do absolutely nothing, with most of their time, and half the man-hours were being used on questionable "design and fabrication" projects.

SA has the time, and the money, to provide the services they offer in a professional and ethical manner. Yet they continue wasting all their valuable time and money attempting to train layman to perform medical procedures they will not be able to master without extensive, properly-supervised clinical experience, and designing and fabricating equipment of questionable merit. Bill and Saul, (or their extremely well-paid management), should really focus on researching ways to provide their services, competently, and in a manner that won't result in more trouble for the cryonics industry.

As "FD" recently suggested on the Cold Filter forum, and as I have suggested, many times, in the past, if the cryonics organizations don't regulate themselves, someone is going to do it for them.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

20 Questions for Suspended Animation, Inc. (SA)

(What follows is a reprint of my August 13, 2009 Cold Filter post.

I did forward the questions to Catherine Baldwin, the manager of Suspended Animation, Inc., at two separate email addresses from which she is known to respond. In all fairness, I have yet to forward the questions to Bill and Saul, mainly because I just haven't taken the time to dig out their contact info. I do fully intend to make sure they each receive a copy of my questions.)

Recently, someone on this forum suggested that inquiring directly, to SA, might result in the answers to some of our questions, so I've decided to do just that. I'm sending the following questions to Catherine Baldwin, Saul Kent and Bill Faloon:

1. What are the names and qualifications of the Suspended Animation (SA) staff members, and why is this information not available on SA's website?

2. Are any of the SA staff members reluctant to have their names associated with cryonics?

3. Are any SA staff members proficient at femoral cannulation and/or perfusion? If so, please name these people and produce their relevant experience. (Proficiency requires extensive, supervised clinical experiences, on human patients.)

4. How many medical professionals does SA have on retainer, and are any of them are contractually required to respond, when "on call," for cases? (By "respond," I mean show up for the case, not answer their phone and say they can't come.)

5. Why does the management of SA think it is wise to attempt to train layman to perform advanced medical procedures, when their budget would easily allow for qualified professionals?

6. Does the management of SA believe it is acceptable to often rely on outside help, (such as funeral directors who may, or may not, be available for each case, or may not always be cooperative), or do they agree it would be preferable to have staff members capable of performing the core medical procedures needed for the washout procedure, (femoral cannulation and perfusion)?

7. What does SA do with 240 man-hours per week, and only a handful of cases, per year?

8. Does SA management track the cost of "research" projects, such as the Autopulse project, including man-hours?

9. Did anyone at SA really believe a DIY project, such as the Autopulse project, involving that length of time, and that amount of money, could compete with companies such as Medtronic, which has now produced the battery-powered "Lucas 2"?

10. At any time, prior to starting, (or even during), this very expensive project, did anyone associated with SA pick up the phone and contact the manufacturers of the Autopulse, and all of its competitors, to see if anyone was working on, (or would be willing to work on), a battery-powered version of such a device?

11. What lab experiments have been carried out at SA, if any, and what were the results?

12. Does the management of SA agree that the images on the SA website are somewhat deceptive, (especially the images of the lab experiment on the home page, and the surgical image on the "Vitrification" page)?

13. Why are the News Bulletins so infrequent, and why do the Case Reports take so long to be released? (See question seven.)

14. Why was the last detailed SA case report authored by two non-medical professionals who were not even present for the case, (which was carried out by three laymen with no medical experience, whatsoever)?

15. Who is writing the reports for the recent Alcor/SA case and the CI-95 case?

16. Will those reports contain the names and qualifications of attending personnel, the length of time taken for cannulation, the number of incisions made, and full perfusion reports that contain flow rates and pressures, volume delivered, volume returned, etc.?

17. Will the CI-95 case contain an explanation of the seemingly unreasonable amount of time involved in the procedure?

18. Do local codes permit dead bodies to be brought into the SA facility, for procedures?

19. Is it legal for laymen and/or EMT-Basics, (who have little-to-no field experience, following their brief EMT-B training), to attempt to carry out advanced medical procedures on dead bodies, in SA's Boynton Beach, Florida facility? (Or, anywhere else, for that matter?)

20. Does the management of SA think it is reasonable/ethical to charge $60K to have unqualified, inexperienced persons attempt to carry out well-established medical procedures that professionals could consistently perform, without error?

These are questions I've been asking for nearly three years, now, (since not long after I became a fulltime employee, at SA), and I would really like to know the answers. All this "disgruntled employee," "personal vendetta" nonsense is just that. I simply don't like to see medical procedures with which I am very experienced being bastardized the way they have been. It's time for people in cryonics to quit acting so ignorantly, and irresponsibly, especially those companies that are so generously funded. While it is certainly questionable as to whether cryonics efforts will ever be successful, I believe it is an experiment worth undertaking, (pun unintended), and I don't understand why cryonics care providers are not people who can perform femoral cannulations and perfusion, without inflicting more harm than necessary, (especially when the salaries of the unqualified care providers are often comparable to, or even more generous than, those of their qualified counterparts).

"Primum non nocere"..."First, do no harm."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Something Doesn't Add Up, for CI-95

Time....the time Suspended Animation (SA) took to get Mr. Henderson to Cryonics Institute (CI) doesn't add up.

"But Curtis' heart stopped at 4:15am on the morning of Thursday, June 25th, 2009.

Curtis was given prompt pronouncement of death and placed in the ice bath with the autopulse cardiopulmonary support. But the standby team had to wait an hour for the funeral director before they could leave the hospital. It took another hour for the team to reach the funeral home, driving slowly in the van while the team gave Curtis cardiopulmonary support."
His heart stopped at 4:15am, on June 25th. The SA team had to wait for an hour, for the funeral director, and then it took them an hour to reach the funeral home, placing them there at approximately 6:15am. I believe qualified medical professionals could have performed the washout, packed up and been on their way to the airport, before lunchtime. So, what took the SA team so long?
"Plans were made to ship Curtis by air to Michigan on Thursday afternoon, but the earliest available flight would not have arrived in Detroit until 10:40pm Thursday evening. Cargo processing stops at 10pm, so Curtis would have had to remain in the Detroit airport until cargo processing began again on Friday morning."
SA was ready to start their washout procedure at 6:15am, but they couldn't get Mr. Henderson to the airport, in time for the flight that would have arrived in Detroit, at 10:40pm? Why not? Was this really the only available flight? There are many flights, between Albany and Detroit, each day.
"A decision was made for Catherine Baldwin and a New York funeral director to drive Curtis from New York.

Catherine and the New York funeral director arrived at the funeral home of CI's funeral director Jim Walsh at about 3:30am on Friday morning."
According to MapQuest, (which I, typically, find to be very generous in time estimates), the drive from Albany to Detroit is a ten-hour drive, meaning Ms. Baldwin and the funeral director did not leave Albany until approximately 5:30pm, (more than thirteen hours after Mr. Henderson was pronounced, and more than eleven hours after SA started their procedures, at the funeral home). The procedures should have taken a few hours, at most. Again, what caused the delay?
"The Suspended Animation team consisted of Suspended Animation staff plus a professional perfusionist."
Since we don't have the SA report, we can still only speculate, but my guess is: The delay was probably caused by unqualified persons attempting to perform the surgical procedure (femoral cannulation) needed for the washout.

"Team-leader Catherine Baldwin had years of experience doing surgery on laboratory animals, but not humans. Catherine solicited the assistance of a funeral director to isolate the blood vessels."

WHEN did Ms. Baldwin recruit the funeral director? Did she, or any of the other (surgically unqualified) team members attempt to isolate the vessels, and perform the cannulation, before she recruited the funeral director? If so, how long did they "play surgeon," before recruiting the funeral director?

Recently, we have the person who was responsible for selecting all the known SA staff members, (with the exception of Ms. Baldwin, and rumor has it he had an active role in her selection), stating:

"...I admire the scientists struggling to develop better methods of cryopreservation, to minimize the damage that we create today and thus reduce our dependence on unknown technology tomorrow. And for those (like me) who lack scientific qualifications, there is always the unappetizing prospect of participating actively in the imperfect processes of standby, stabilization and transport, in the hope of making them more reliable and more effective in the future."

(Charles Platt, in the "3rd Quarter 2008 - Volume 39:3" issue of Alcor's "Cryonics" magazine, which was actually published in July 2009.)
People who lack medical qualifications should not be "participating actively" in medical procedures, other than to tote equipment and supplies. They should not be leading medical procedures, or performing medical procedures, for which they are unqualified, any more than people who lack scientific qualifications should be taking lead roles in performing scientic research.

The procedures being used during the stabilzation of cryonics patients are not "imperfect processes," they are well-established medical procedures that have been bungled, time-and-time-again, in cryonics, by people who are not qualified to perform them. Why is it Platt, (and others in cryonics), are accepting of unsupervised persons attempting to perform well-established surgical procedures they are not qualified to perform? How can anyone think persons not qualified to perform lab experiments, could be capable of leading and performing medical/surgical procedures, for which they are equally unqualified?

When you allow unqualified persons to attempt to lead, and carry out medical procedures, things often don't add up.