What follows is an article that appeared last year that is intended to explain to non-US people why it is difficult if not impossible for them to sign up with Alcor unless they emmigrate to the USA. The fact remains that if you want to use their virtification system then you do need to live near the facility. However Alcor are still offering "classical" cryopreservation, and if a foreigner is signed up and discovers that (s)he is dying (s)he may be able to relocate on a 6 month visa to be near the facility and use virtification instead of classical, if that is preferred. But don't think that such a plan would be very easy to execute under the circumstances described.
Reprinted from Cryonics magazine with permission:
Is it possible to become a member of Alcor without living in the US and being
a US citizen?
Alcor's mission is the "Preservation of Individuals Lives". As an organization offering a life-saving technology, we wish it were possible to make it available to all who are interested, no matter where they live.
Unfortunately, since Alcor is dedicated to offering only the most advanced technology possible this is not easy to do for two major reasons:
(1) As technology advances, the delivery of highly technical biomedical services becomes increasingly sophisticated, requiring greater surgical skills and more advanced equipment and pharmaceuticals, and
(2) the problems associated with funding mechanisms and dealing with a multitude of different legal systems are also very difficult to overcome without undermining long term security for both Alcor and the patients in its care.
Technology is rapidly changing the face of our world. Biostasis, a very high tech service, has grown out of what was once called "cryonics". In the 1970's and 1980's there was very little difference between organizations that offered cryonics services. The decade of the 90's began to develop a broad gap between the technologies of those providers, however. Today, Alcor is the only organization that can offer vitrification, an advanced biostasis technology that is currently only available for neuro-patients (for whom current day technologies such as stem cell technology, genetic engineering, therapeutic cloning, and future technologies like nanomedicine will be used to create younger, stronger, healthier, and more productive bodies).
Vitrification through the use to cryogenic temperatures is a way of turning a biological system into a glass-like state, rather than being filled with damaging of ice crystals. The result is, as one would expect, far better preservation. Better preservation and less damage are of particular importance in preserving the physical structures that are associated with memory and identity. Alcor patients who receive this new cryo-vitrification procedure are likely to have more of their memory and identity preserved.
The unfortunate side of this issue is that highly skilled and trained medical personal must get to the patient rapidly. The longer the delay, the less likely it is that vitirification will be possible, due to the damage to the biological systems (the vascular and capillary beds) necessary to deliver the protective chemicals to the cells themselves. This greatly increases the importance of Alcor's standby procedures and skilled teams. It also means that the distances (and resulting time delays) experienced when a member lives at a distance, are a major limitation on the ability to make these advances available to members at a distance.
For Alcor Members who might need biostasis services while traveling abroad, Alcor works closely with Rowland Brothers International Mortuary Shipping, headquartered in London (with four generations of experience). Rowland Brothers has a reputation for reliability and outstanding service that has been expressed to us by many sources including both international airlines and local morticians (whom we use to assist us with the legal forms and transport of our patients during remote operations). In addition to their worldwide reputation and network of agents familiar with the laws in all major countries, Tony Rowland, the head of Rowland Brothers has given Alcor exemplary cooperation and assistance.
Alcor's team and facility in England, with over 15 certified Alcor CryoTransport Technicians, is at the doorstep of Europe and is expected to be our first line of defense in the event of any needs for Alcor Members living or traveling there. However, the ability to offer vitrification outside the United States will not be possible at this time, for many of the same reasons that vitrification is now only available for neuro patients. The scaling up of the equipment and procedures will require an extensive and expensive developmental program. Such capabilities must be developed first at home before we can tackle the challenge of making these available internationally. The great distances involved and obstacles such as laws, embassy rules, and airline schedules tend to work against the need to act quickly.
Another problem is the difficulties of providing funding (since insurance is usually used). This problem relates to the fact that Alcor must have secure funding arrangements in order to carry out our primary responsibility: Which is to first protect our patients already in biostasis first (this applies to all conflicts of interest, such as the needs of a new member trying to make arrangements to become a biostasis member of Alcor).
In order to carry out our primary responsibility, Alcor must make sure that our long-term strength and stability as an organization is not jeopardized by the financial problems that would result from unfunded biostasis operations. Alcor is still too small an organization with too little financial strength to be able to write off 10% to 20% (or more) of it's cash flow (like many large companies do, as a business judgement) and still remain solvent and secure for the long term.
Financial security leads to the need to make sure that members have secure funding mechanisms. This can present problems, of course, for persons who are trying to arrange for membership. Such problems are often even more difficult for persons who do not live in the United States. Until solutions can be found for this dilemma Alcor cannot accept new members outside the United States unless they have American insurance or provide the funding in full, in US dollars, in advance.
It is difficult to purchase insurance from a country where one is not a citizen. Almost universally, insurance companies require
(1) that the insured have either familial or business relationships that require they travel at least once or twice to the insurance company's country,
(2) that all paperwork be signed while the insured is in the country where the insurance company is located, and
(3) that the paramedic exam, blood tests, urine tests, etc. be done in the country where the insurance company is located.
This makes it difficult for a person to acquire an insurance policy in a country in which they do not have citizenship. Many insurance agents (including those on our list of agents who write insurance policies in this country for the purpose of funding biostasis) have found that the difficulties are so extensive, that they are not willing to put in the time and effort in view of the low probability of success (as they are not compensated unless the policy is actually put into force).
Because of these difficulties, Alcor has made a policy that we will not accept an application fee and enter a person into the membership signup process until the funding has been arranged. The $150 signup fee is good for 6 months. Thereafter, if the applicant has not finished the process, Alcor begins to bill the applicant $25 per month to stay in the signup process. However, in view of the difficulties foreign individuals will meet when trying to obtain American insurance it is seldom possible for a person who does not live in the U.S. to complete this process in six months (unless they are paying cash). Knowing this, we do not feel it is ethical for us charge the signup fee unless the funding problem has already been solved.
For that reason, Alcor does not enter a foreign individual into the signup process or charge the signup fee for individuals outside America until they have resolved the funding question. Upon request, we will forward one set of the legal paperwork that you will be required to sign (in triplicate, when the time comes) so that you can read these over and be aware of what you will be agreeing to.
What is the Foreign Disclosure form?
Due to the problems described above, and to strive for good informed consent from a non-US citizen who is interested in joining Alcor, we have a specifically drawn informed consent form that must be signed by foreign individuals in addition to our other legal paperwork.
Can a group of people set up a branch of Alcor Outside the US?
Every decision made within Alcor will affect, either directly or indirectly, the long term safety and security of the biostasis patients in Alcor's care. For that reason, all decisions made by Alcor personnel or directors must consider the impact on those patients and place their interests before all other considerations. Alcor cannot fulfill this mandate to the patients and at the same time accept the liabilities and problems that would be guaranteed if we set up affiliated groups in non-English speaking countries. With our current funding and personnel limitations, the only way Alcor can help groups in other countries is to offer consulting services to help them set up their own organizations.
Alcor would not be acting responsibly if it took time and other resources away from its own members in order to help build other organizations. Therefore, Alcor would have to ask substantial consulting fees to justify involvement (fees that could then support Alcor's other members and obligations). A substantial amount of money (in the order of $500,000.00 US, as a minimum), for equipment, training, medical personnel, and consulting fees) will be needed to finance the startup of a capability equal to that offered by Alcor.
Are there other sources of information about foreign life extension groups?
See the following web sites:
FOR INDIVIDUALS RESIDING OR TRAVELING
OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
(Revised November 2000)
This Attachment is understood to be a part of the CONSENT FOR CRYONIC SUSPENSION signed by the Member on ___________________________ (date and year) between ___________________________________________(Donor) and the Alcor Life Extension Foundation (Alcor).
1. I understand and accept that cryonic suspension is not consistent with contemporary medical or mortuary practice. I understand that many physicians, cryobiologists, and scientists in other disciplines discount any reasonable possibility that cryonic suspension will be successful.
2. I understand and accept that the procedures used to place my remains into cryonic suspension are technically sophisticated procedures that require specially trained personnel, specialized equipment and pharmaceuticals, and are most beneficial if utilized as soon as possible after my heart stops beating (a condition known as "clinical death"). I understand that the difficulty of transporting a skilled team, pharmaceuticals and/or equipment outside the United States of America during an emergency, with little or no time to coordinate and arrange such in advance, could meet with legal delays and compromise the results of the procedure.
3. I understand that the laws and customs vary from country to country. I agree and affirm that Alcor is not responsible for knowing the laws or customs in other countries, and is not responsible for social, legal, economic, and other problems that might make cryotransport, suspension, maintenance, or resuscitation of my human remains illegal or impractical. This particularly true if I am traveling or residing outside the United States at the time of my cryotransport. The problems include, but are not limited to the following:
3.1. The forms that I have filled out with Alcor which confirm to the laws of the United States of America to make possible my anatomical donation to Alcor, and to therefore make possible my cryonic suspension, may not be accepted or recognized by other countries.
3.2 Alcor may not be able to gain access to my remains in a timely manner or at all.
3.3 The inability of Alcor to place my remains into cryonic suspension without extended time delays could result in extensive biological compromise.
3.4 The inability of Alcor to place my remains into cryonic suspension at all. Due to the possibility of events beyond Alcor's control, there are no guarantees that my human remains will ever be cryonically suspended or will be stored indefinitely if they are suspended.
4. I understand that it would be to my advantage to relocate near Alcor in the event of my physical decline, at my sole cost and responsibility, in order to avoid the problems outlined above.
YOUR SIGNATURE BELOW CONFIRMS YOUR ACKNOWLEDGEMENT THAT:
1. You have read, understood, and consented to all of the provisions of the CONSENT FOR CRYONIC SUSPENSION to which this is attached.
2. You are fully aware of and accept the risks and limitations explained in this Addendum: Special Informed Consent for Individuals Residing or Traveling Outside of the United States of America.
3. These limitations and risks have been satisfactorily explained to you by the officers, representatives, and/or other personnel of Alcor.
4. You declare that the arrangements described herein, in conjunction with the Cryonic Suspension Agreement and the Authorization of Anatomical Donation, constitutes your last wish as to the disposition of your human remains after legal death.
Signature of Member
However, the ability to offer vitrification outside the United States will not be possible at this time, for many of the same reasons that vitrification is now only available for neuro patients. The scaling up of the equipment and procedures will require an extensive and expensive developmental program. Such capabilities must be developed first at home before we can tackle the challenge of making these available internationally.
Two (2) witnesses are required to sign in the presence of each other and the Member. At the time of signing, witnesses must not be relatives of the Member, health care providers of any kind, or officers, directors, or agents of Alcor.
YOUR SIGNATURE AS WITNESS CONFIRMS YOUR ACKNOWLEDGEMENT THAT:
1. The Donor _________________________________________has represented to you that Donor understands and agrees to the purposes and terms of this ATTACHMENT A: SPECIAL IMFORMED CONSENT FOR INDIVIDUALS RESIDING OR TRAVELING OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
2. The Donor has declared to you that cryonic suspension is Donor's last wish as to the disposition of Donor's body and person after legal death.
WITNESSED THIS DATE _______________________ TIME ______________(a.m./p.m
Alcor Life Extension Foundation
7895 E. Acoma Dr., Suite 110, Scottsdale AZ 85260-6916
Phone (480) 905-1906 x 113 FAX (480) 922-9027
The Alcor Life Extension Foundation was founded in 1972 as a non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, and has 43 patients in biostasis as of January, 2001. Alcor is the world's only provider of clinical cryovitrification with over 525 members who have pre-arranged for biostasis. Alcor's Emergency CryoTransport System (ECS) is a medical-style rescue network patterned after Emergency Medical System (EMS). Alcor CryoTransport Technicians, as with EMTs and Paramedics on an ambulance, are advised by our Medical Director, Jerry Lemler MD or other physicians who are Alcor members and/or contract physicians.
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