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British Teen Wins Right to Be Cryogenically Preserved

  • VOA News

Dr. Jerry Lemler, president and CEO of Alcor Life Extension Foundation, stands in the Patient Care Bay area where the heads and bodies of 49 individuals are being held in cold storage suspension, at the company's headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona, July 12, 2002. On Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, a British judge rules a the 14-year-old girl, who had terminal cancer and has died, can have her frozen body stored in the United States.

Dr. Jerry Lemler, president and CEO of Alcor Life Extension Foundation, stands in the Patient Care Bay area where the heads and bodies of 49 individuals are being held in cold storage suspension, at the company's headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona, July 12, 2002. On Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, a British judge rules a the 14-year-old girl, who had terminal cancer and has died, can have her frozen body stored in the United States.

A judge in Britain has granted the wish of a 14-year-old girl who suffered from terminal cancer but wanted to be cryogenically preserved, in what the judge called the first case of its kind in England and possibly the world.

The girl, who was not identified, told High Court Judge Peter Jackson she hoped to be brought back to life in the future, when her cancer could be cured. She died a month ago and the case was made public Friday.

The girl's lawyer, Zoe Fleetwood, said her wishes were carried out; the teenager's frozen body is now in the United States at a cryopreservation facility.

The 14-year-old learned of the judge's ruling 11 days before her death, and her lawyer said the decision “gave great comfort in the last days of her life.”

Judge Jackson said he was persuaded by a letter the girl wrote, stating clearly that she wanted to try cryopreservation. He called her a “bright, intelligent young person who is able to articulate strongly held views on her current situation.” He said his ruling was based on what was best for the girl, and was not a ruling on the validity of cryopreservation.

Some believe that cryopreservation may allow frozen bodies to be brought back to life in the future when science has advanced. Biological material preserved in this manner usually is frozen to the temperature of liquid nitrogen, nearly 200 degrees Celsius below zero, the temperature at which water freezes.

The girl's divorced parents had disagreed about the procedure. He mother favored cryopreservation once it became clear her cancer was terminal; her father initially opposed the procedure.

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