NOV 20, 2016 05:28 AM PST

14-Year-Old Won Rights to be Cryopreserved

A 14-year-old cancer patient in the United Kingdom recently won the legal right to be cryopreserved after her death. Although the news may sound controversial from many different aspects, some say this is a “historic” ruling and could set a precedent for how cryonics will be regulated in the future.

Death is a scary event, but perhaps less so for the people who believe in cryonics – the technique of deep-freezing the body or brain after death, with the hope that modern medicine and technology will be capable of reviving them in the future.
For a 14-year-old girl who was battling an aggressive and rare cancer, this was her wish. Identified only as “JS,” the girl fully understood her chances of surviving and extensively researched cryonics before making her decision.
Unfortunately, although her mother was in support of her wishes, her father disagreed. Because the girl was under 18 and her divorced parents were not in agreement, the case went before a judge.
In a heartfelt letter to the judge, she 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."
Of note, cryonics is controversial due to the high expense and the lack of science supporting the success of this technique. "The scientific theory underlying cryonics is speculative and controversial, and there is considerable debate about its ethical implications,” the judge said.

Also against the decision, JS’ father wrote: “Even if the treatment is successful and [JS] is brought back to life in let's say 200 years, she may not find any relative and she might not remember things and she may be left in a desperate situation given that she is only 14 years old and will be in the United States of America."
In the end, the judge ruled in favor of JS’ wishes, although he made it clear it wasn’t because of any deep faith in the science of cryonics.
JS died on October 17, and her body was cryopreserved by the Cryonics Institute, based in Michigan. JS is the institute’s 143rd “patient.” Of note, the institute refers to its cryopreserved members as patients “because [they] do not regard the cryopreserved person as being inevitably 'dead'."

Additional sources: Popular Science, CNN
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at
You May Also Like
JUN 14, 2018
Clinical & Molecular DX
JUN 14, 2018
Automated Blood Drawing Device Coming to Your Doctor's Office
A robot arm could soon be coming to your doctor’s office to take your blood and analyze it for you. From scientists at Rutgers University, this techn...
AUG 23, 2018
AUG 23, 2018
A Faster and Safe Heart Attack Diagnosis
A new clinical score can diagnose heart attack quickly and safely compared to traditional diagnostic methods....
SEP 05, 2018
Clinical & Molecular DX
SEP 05, 2018
Iron-based MRI Contrast Outperforms Less Safe Method
A new method for loading iron inside nanoparticles creates MRI contrast agents that work better than the mainstay gadolinium chelates, which face increased...
NOV 07, 2018
NOV 07, 2018
Inflammation Can Steal Your Sleep
A link between inflammation and the circadian rhythm has been determined in mouse models. High-fat-diets may be the cause....
DEC 05, 2018
DEC 05, 2018
Male Contraceptive Gel is in Clinical Trials
Researchers have started a clinical trial involving 420 participants to test the efficacy of a male contraceptive gel....
DEC 10, 2018
Health & Medicine
DEC 10, 2018
What To Expect During Your Stress Test
If you or a loved one has been scheduled for a treadmill stress test, you may be wondering what you can expect. The procedure is usually done in a hospital...
Loading Comments...