The Alcor Life Extension Foundation, most often referred to as Alcor, is an American nonprofit, federally tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization based in Scottsdale, Arizona, United States. Alcor advocates for, researches, and performs cryonics, the freezing of human corpses and brains in liquid nitrogen after legal death, with hopes of resurrecting and restoring them to full health in the event some new technology can be developed in the future. Cryonics is regarded with skepticism within the mainstream scientific community and has been characterized as quackery and pseudoscience.
Cryonics is the practice of preserving life by pausing the dying process using subfreezing temperatures with the intent of restoring good health with medical technology in the future.
Cryonics procedures should ideally begin within the first one or two minutes after the heart stops, and preferably within 15 minutes. Longer delays place a greater burden on future technology to reverse injury and restore the brain to a healthy state, and make it more uncertain that the correct original state can be determined. Exactly when such restoration is no longer feasible is a matter of some debate and could be many hours. The greatest impact of delay is that it degrades the circulatory system, reducing the ability to circulate chemicals that reduce freezing injury. For further information, see the FAQ question “Doesn’t the brain die after 4 to 6 minutes without oxygen?,” the article “Cardiopulmonary Support in Cryonics,” and the “Cases without Cardiopulmonary Support” section of Alcor Procedures.]
Before Alcor, prior attempts at cryonics relied on relatives of the cryopreserved patient to pay ongoing patient storage fees for the foreseeable future, which was not sustainable long-term, and resulted in the loss of a number of patients – but never at Alcor. This is why Alcor funding minimums include enough money for indefinitely long storage costs.
When an Alcor member is cryopreserved, a significant portion of the member’s funding is placed into the Alcor Patient Care Trust, which pays for storage costs, and transfers investment funds into the legally separate Alcor Care Trust Supporting Organization, which provides protection against liability. The investment funds are held by Morgan Stanley.
This conservative funding arrangement is designed to cover the cost of patient storage solely from the income from the Trusts, thereby assuring that such funding will continue indefinitely into the future. This arrangement is one of many reasons why our members have confidence in Alcor.
Vitrification can preserve biological structure very well – much better than freezing.
Vitrification is the transformation of a substance into a glassy solid. High concentrations of cryoprotectants permit biological tissue to be cooled to very low temperatures with little to no ice formation. It is now possible to physically vitrify organs as large as the human brain, achieving excellent structural preservation without freezing.
Methods for repairing biological structure at the molecular level can now be foreseen.
Nanotechnology will lead to the capability of extensive tissue repair and regeneration, including repairing individual cells one molecule at a time. This future nanomedicine could theoretically recover any cryopreserved person where the structures encoding memory and personality remain inferable.