Click here for the Standby Team's web site

Cryonics UK Standby Team

Cryonics UK is a self-help group of cryonicists that provides emergency response services for its members. In order to be eligible to receive the assistance of volunteers in an emergency, members are required to

  1. Join the group.
  2. Have a securely funded contract with a cryonics provider.

  3. Have extra funds demonstrably committed to cover the extra costs shipping to the US, the services of a funeral director and the technical costs of a suspension. As a rough estimate, these costs amount to about 13.000 British Pound / 18.000 Euro. Usually, these funds will be part of the cryonics provider's overseas membership scheme.

  4. Attend training regularly. Training will take place in the UK on the second weekend of March, June, September, and December each year. Failure to attend at least two meetings per year without being able to produce a medical certificate will lead to revocation of membership.

  5. Pay membership dues of about 120 GBP/ 170 EUR per year to cover the groups running cost.

  6. Be located in the UK at the time the emergency occurs.

Currently, the Cryonics UK is not able will not offer assistance to non-members. Individual private arrangements might be possible but must be negotiated on a case-by-case basis. It should be absolutely clear that such arrangements will likely not be possible and be extremely expensive if they are. (30.000- 50.000+ GBP per emergency)

Some Details and Questions:

Why is standby service necessary?
Cryonics is all about recoverability. If suspension is not initiated immediately after deanimation (after you are declared dead) cellular decomposition will wreak havoc in brain and body.

Why train volunteers?
In all foreseeable future, US style professional standby services will not be available in Europe. While it might be possible to fly a response team in from the US, costs are considerable and there might not be enough time in an emergency.

Therefore, volunteer response teams have to be trained to the highest possible level. If European membership grows, it might be possible to train up and fund a professional service in the future, but at the moment, the cost is prohibitive.

Why do I have to train in order to receive the service?
There are currently not enough committed volunteers available. If we offered a service without requiring active participation, most people would simply join, lean back and expect to be rescued by somebody when their time comes. If everybody acts like that, nobody would ever be trained and thus nobody would ever be able to help in an emergency. Therefore, we have to create a huge incentive to be trained. If you don't train, you won't get rescued. If there are absolutely compelling reasons why you cannot train, it might be possible to come to an arrangement but such cases will be very rare.

What about the cost?
There are certain costs involved in the suspension itself. The following enumeration is a very rough estimate that is likely to change considerably depending on whether neuro suspension or whole body, traditional perfusion or vitrification, transport by ship or by air etc. is required. Medicines 700 GBP, expendable parts 500 GBP, perfusate 800 GBP, services of a funeral director including paperwork and shipping 10.000 GBP, dry ice for shipping 300 GBP. Total: 12.300 GBP / 17.600 EUR. (Hence quoted as 13.000 / 18.000 above) Usually, all these costs should be covered by your contract with the cryonics provider and/or through "over-insurance". Cryonics UK will expect that it is reimbursed for all the costs involved in a suspension and it is your responsibility to ensure that enough funds have been committed to that purpose. Please note that these costs are determined on a strict non-for profit basis. There is no charge for personnel, food, running costs, incidental costs, clothing, phone, electricity, ice, etc. Some of these costs are covered by the membership fee.

Can non-UK citizen join?
Yes. However, we will only be able to rescue you if you are in the UK when an emergency occurs. This is not only due to practical considerations of travel times in an emergency but also due to barriers in language, culture and -most importantly- legal system that would make a service very difficult anywhere else. Luckily, it is very easy these days for any EU citizen to travel to the UK or set up residence when an emergency is thought to be imminent.

Cryonics Institute UK Volunteer Standby Team

An association was formed in April, 2001 and later renamed Cryonics Europe, which has this web site and its associated communication list.

It consists primarily of British and other European members of the Cryonics Institute, plus individuals affiliated with other organizations such as Alcor or with none. Its officers are (and are required to be) members of CI. It is long-standing informal CI policy to try, within its legal, financial, and practical constraints, to help any member of any cryonics organization whenever requested, through information, referrals, loan of equipment, etc.

The general aim of Cryonics Europe is to encourage exchange of information and mutual help among European cryonicists. A particular focus is to maintain a team of trained volunteers to stand by when subscribers to the team (either participating or non-participating) appear to be near death in the UK and provide whatever help they can, and especially to reduce the delay between pronouncement of death and onset of cooling and medication. A number of people are already available and willing, including people who have had Paramedic training. (This does not imply that previous methods or recommendations will necessarily be retained.) Some equipment and supplies are on hand, as well as a building to serve as headquarters, owned by individual members.

Although originally formed for the purposes of helping CI members, Cryonics Europe stand by team will support members of any cryonics organisation who subscribe to it, either as full members or contributing members. References to CI in the following also refer to other organisations to which subscribers have contracted.

Regardless of whether they have subscribed to the team, Cryonics Europe will support anyone with informal advice as needing during the sign up process, to any cryonics organisation.

Several things need to be understood about the relationship between CI and the UK Volunteer Standby Team.

  1. The team is dedicated to serving CI members, and works in full consultation with CI (and with Albin's Funeral Home), and to the best of CI's knowledge offers an ethical and useful service.
  2. It is not formally a part of CI, is not legally controlled by CI, its funds are not mingled with those of CI, and the CI contract (Cryonic Suspension Agreement) does not refer to it, and CI assumes no responsibility for its services or the quality of its services.
  3. Prospective members of CI in the UK should understand that they are not required either to use or to perform volunteer services.
  4. The Team is expected to form its own legal entity, but in any case will handle its own finances and charges. (A schedule of charges has yet to be determined.)

Many thanks to the people leading these efforts, including Alan and Sylvia Sinclair, David and May Flude, Chrissie de Rivaz (aka Chrissie Loveday), John de Rivaz, Mark Walker, Floss Morgan, Graham Hipkiss, and George Overmeire and others in the CI Netherlands Group (with apologies to any I may have missed).

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

The following article by Charles Platt of Alcor clears up a few points about dry ice transport.

I have conferred with one of our cryobiology experts about concerns with dry ice transport. The problem with dry ice transport only occurs if you have a supercooled solution; in other words, a solution of cryoprotectant in the patient that does not freeze even though it is below its normal freezing point. The danger is that ice nucleation and growth (i.e. freezing) will occur in the supercooled state, and freezing is usually more damaging if it occurs in supercooled solutions. In other words, if you are going to freeze tissue, it's better to have it start freezing close to the normal freezing point (above -40 degrees C) than to postpone freezing until a long wait at dry ice temperature (-80 degrees C).

According to the expert, dry ice shipping is not a problem following traditional cryonics freezing protocols, such as those using glycerol. At ordinary solution concentrations and cooling rates, freezing begins early, and there is no supercooling once dry ice temperature is reached. Vitrification is a different story. If high solution concentrations and/or high cooling rates are used to attempt vitrification, it is likely that some or all of the patient will be supercooled. It is not safe to pause cooling of such patients at dry ice temperature

I described to him Cryonics Europe's proposed method of cooling, and he felt that it was sufficiently slow to eliminate the risk of supercooling regardless of the cryoprotectant solution used. However if you ever adopt more aggressive cooling measures (which are necessary to ensure that even poorly-perfused tissues vitrify), you will not be able to ship on dry ice. He suggested that a workable "quasi-vitrification" strategy for Europe may be to use vitrification solutions at deliberately slow cooling rates so that supercooling would be minimal, and dry ice therefore still usable for transport. All else being equal, the result would not be as good as vitrification at fast cooling rates, but dry ice would still be useable for transport. He speculated that this was the type of vitrification that CI was working to validate.

He commented, "This is actually quite a complicated issue." This made me feel better for having understood it incompletely.

- Charles Platt