Ethical issues of cryonics
Published in Bioethics.
By Kristina Smith and Andria Bianchi
Case: Sasha is a 60-year-old neurologist and researcher who is interested in concepts of life, death, and consciousness. Sasha is aware of the ethical complexities that can arise in relation to death determinations, the most common of which is that some people may not recognize brain death as a legitimate type of death (as noted in a previous column). In his recent readings about death and consciousness, Sasha discovered a practice that is referred to as cryonics; this is when a person is declared legally dead, yet their body is preserved by cooling it to a liquid nitrogen temperature so that any further decay is halted. The goal of cryonics is to enable cooled bodies to regain consciousness in the future as a result of anticipated scientific advances.