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.

1 comment:

Robert I. Marsh II said...

There needs to be more public debate to raise awareness, thus bringing better research funding to the field.

Nanotechnology is now vindicating the cryonics movement, so now is the time for a big push toward total success!

Everyone is invited to view an ongoing Cryonics Debate in progress :

*(Note: Be sure to bookmark the following post for continuous updates, and then forward to your friends. THNX!!!)

Cryonics Debate > Page 1 - Volconvo Forums

Cryonics Debate > Page 2 - Volconvo Forums