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Topic : Australian Cryonics Firm Freezes First Client

GS-3 Mains  : Ethics

Revision Notes

Question : “Cryonics and the Quest for Immortality: A Journey Through Ethics, Technology, and Human Identity.” Discuss the complexities and implications of cryonics in the quest for human immortality.

An Australian cryonics company has frozen its first client, aiming for a future revival. Cryonics is a controversial practice that preserves deceased individuals at ultra-low temperatures for potential reanimation with future medical advancements.

The Process:

Cryonics can only begin after legal death, with no heartbeat or brain activity. Here’s a breakdown:

  1. Stabilization: Immediate actions maintain tissue viability after death.
  2. Cooling: The body is gradually cooled to near freezing to prevent ice formation.
  3. Cryoprotectant Perfusion: Blood is replaced with chemicals (cryoprotectants) to prevent ice crystals during further cooling.
  4. Vitrification: The body is submerged in liquid nitrogen (-196°C), transforming biological tissues into a glass-like state, avoiding ice crystal formation.

Technical Challenges:

  • Cryoprotectants: These chemicals aim to protect tissues, but their effectiveness in preventing long-term damage is uncertain.
  • Vitrification: Achieving rapid cooling rates is crucial to avoid ice crystal formation and cell damage.
  • Storage: Long-term storage in liquid nitrogen requires specialized cryostats and maintaining ultra-low temperatures.

Ethical Considerations:

  • Consent: Informed consent before death is crucial for cryopreservation.
  • Ethical Debates: Several ethical concerns surround cryonics.
    • Identity and Continuity: Can a person revived after a long period be considered the same individual?
    • Resuscitation Probability: The likelihood of successful revival with future technology is unknown.
    • Resource Allocation: Cryonics is expensive, raising questions about resource allocation in healthcare.

The Future of Cryonics:

Cryonics remains a highly experimental procedure with many unknowns. While the hope of future revival is captivating, significant scientific and ethical hurdles exist before it can be considered a viable option.

Source : https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/health/world-health-assembly-countries-approve-draft-to-improve-organ-transplantation-availability-including-cells-tissues-96466

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