Here's some news that will give pause to those of you out there currently weighing the pros and cons of getting yourselves cryonically frozen.
The son of late California scientist Dr. Laurence Pilgeram is currently in the lengthy process of suing an Arizona cryonics lab called Alcor Life Extension Foundation. That son, Kurt Pilgeram, is alleging that Alcor incorrectly froze only his father's head while sending the family back the cremated body. Laurence had died back in April 2015 from cardiac arrest right outside his home. He was 90.
Kurt further alleges that this went against an agreement he and his family had with Alcor which is, for the record, the same facility that counts baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams as a patient. The Telegraph details that Kurt opened a package roughly two weeks after his dad's death which "contained his father's cremated remains, except allegedly for his head."
For those wondering what good a head is without the body, per to Daily Beast:
Alcor offers whole-body preservation—or head-only neuropreservation, which it says aims to “restore the patient to health by regrowing a new body around the brain using future tissue regeneration technology.”
A legal filing states that the Scottsdale-based cryonics lab was to preserve the late doctor's body, "no matter how damaged." And also that Kurt was "shocked, horrified and extremely distressed" at the lab's alleged incompetence. The legal filing says that "there is little, if any, hope of bringing his head 'back to life' under the circumstances here." Though one would think that, even if forming a new body around the brain were possible, that would be pretty terrifying for all parties involved.
Though they did not comment on the case, as written on Alcor's site:
"[Dr. Pilgeram] was taken to the medical examiner’s office in Santa Barbara [following his death], as they did not understand Alcor’s process and assumed that the circumstances surrounding his death would pre-empt any possible donation directives. Since this all transpired late on a Friday evening, Alcor was not notified of the incident until the following Monday morning."
Laurence was said to have been a big time proponent of Alcor's work, and had been speaking at cryonics conferences for more than 40 years prior to his death. Potentially giving more credibility to those talks, he had a Ph.D in biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley.
In a bizarre twist, this ongoing legal battle is not the first one between Alcor and the Pilgeram's as, back in 1994, a California court ordered the company to give Laurence's late wife, Cynthia, to the family so she could be buried. She had been cryonically frozen four years earlier, but her sister found a copy of her will in which she asked to be buried.
As for this latest drama, Kurt is seeking damages in excess of $1 million from Alcor. A trial date is yet to be set, but there will be a hearing on the matter held in January at the Superior Court of California in Santa Barbara.