Usually, when people think about what they want done with their body when they die, the options are limited to burial or cremation. However, in a recent interview, former American Idol judge, Simon Cowell, stated that when he dies he wants his remains to be cryogenically frozen.
Cryopreservation involves preserving a human body at an extremely low temperature in the hopes that resuscitation might be possible some time in the future. Cowell’s rationale is he has nothing to lose – if medical technology never advances to the point that he can be revived then he’s no worse off than he was to begin with – and if it does then all the better for him.
Cryopreservation is no laughing matter – some people take the issue very seriously. After the death of Red Sox great Ted Williams, a dispute erupted amongst his children about what should be done with his body. He’d left a will in which he’d stated his desire to be cremated and for his ashes to be spread along the Florida coast.
However, after Williams’ death his son produced a handwritten note apparently signed by Williams (and two of his children) which stated they all wanted to be frozen when they died in the hopes of being revived and reunited sometime later. At present, his head and body are in different containers and suspended in liquid nitrogen at Arizona’s Alcor Life Extension Foundation.
All of this raises an interesting question – what should happen to the estate of a cryogenically frozen person? Should it be distributed to the individual’s beneficiaries or should it be preserved so it’s still there in the event the frozen individual can be brought back to life in a few decades?