A 14-year-old British girl who was dying of cancer won a court battle last month to be cryogenically frozen in the hope of being revived in 200 years’ time. Her divorced parents could not agree about whether to carry out her wishes, so she sought permission from the UK High Court. In a letter to the judge, the girl, known only as JS, wrote,
"I have been asked to explain why I want this unusual thing done. I'm only 14 years old and I don't want to die, but I know I am going to. I think being cryo-preserved gives me a chance to be cured and woken up, even in hundreds of years' time. I don't want to be buried underground. I want to live and live longer and I think that in the future they might find a cure for my cancer and wake me up. I want to have this chance. This is my wish."
According to the Telegraph, JS told a relative: “I’m dying, but I’m going to come back again in 200 years. After her death on October 17 her body was frozen and taken to a facility in the United States.
Only 10 Britons have ever been frozen. Even the companies which store frozen bodies and heads admit that there is currently impossible to revive a frozen cadaver. So at best cryopreservation is a leap of faith; at worst it is quackery. It is not cheap, either. Basic cryopreservation packages costs about £37,000, or, in the words of the Judge, Justice Peter Jackson, “about ten times as much as an average funeral”. In this case, JS’s maternal grandparents have paid for freezing her body.
In his judgement Justice Jackson said that the court was by no means endorsing cryogenics:
“I cannot emphasise enough what this case is not about. It is not about whether cryonic preservation has any scientific basis or whether it is right or wrong. The court is not approving or encouraging cryonics, still less ordering that JS's body should be cryonically preserved. Nor is this case about whether JS's wishes are sensible or not. We are all entitled to our feelings and beliefs about our own life and death, and none of us has the right to tell anyone else – least of all a young person in JS's position – what they must think.”
This article is published by Michael Cook
and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.