ALS patient hopes to be cryopreserved
June 17, 2013
I would like to introduce you to Aaron Winborn. It was his birthday this week. He just turned 46.
At the age of 43, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is a terminal condition. This will likely be his last birthday on earth.
He is currently on a bi-pap machine 24 hours a day, which enables him to breathe. His diaphragm no longer functions on its own due to atrophy. He has no use of his arms, is in a wheelchair, and must have all of his needs met by his family, or home nursing care.
They live in Pennsylvania, struggling to get by on his wife’s income as a social worker and his disability income. His decline has been rapid. Already, he has had cognitive and neurological deficits. He is having a great deal of difficulty speaking. He’s no longer able to understand music or spoken language without reading lips, and he is often unable to open his eyes for several minutes after blinking. He is fed through a feeding tube for most of his meals.
He may become fully locked in with invasive artificial ventilation, and then will likely succumb to pneumonia or another infection.
A dying wish
Aaron’s dying wish is to be cryopreserved, but with his current state of health, he is not insurable, and cannot afford the service. Aaron discovered cryonics five years ago after reading Ray Kurzweil’s book, The Singularity is Near. In October 2012, he saw Kim Suozzi’s charity campaign run by the Society for Venturism, an organization founded in 1986 that is currently running its fifth cryonics charity campaign.
Interestingly, Kim and Aaron have the same birthday, June 10th. Aaron reached out to contact Kim to explain how he had been trying to find some way to afford cryonics after being surprised by a terminal diagnosis mid-life. She encouraged him to present his story to the Society for Venturism.
He did and was taken on as a Venturist Cryonics Charity recipient for the purpose of raising the funds needed to cryopreserve him. Kim pledged to help him raise funds as well. Kim’s terminal illness ended up overcoming her, and she died this past January at the age of 23. The wonderful success in her story was that the fundraising efforts for her were widely supported, and she was able to be cryopreserved at Alcor.
Half way to goal
To date, $17,000 has been raised for Aaron. We are half way to his minimum goal needed to fund cryonic suspension. My intention of writing this article is to help him reach his goal by raising awareness of his plight in the cryonics and transhumanist communities.
Here are a few reasons why I feel we can and should help him:
- We are a community of intelligent, caring people. Helping a member in need builds community cohesion and good will. We should help him because he, like us, values life and wants the chance to continue it.
- It is good for the cause. Kim’s campaign created a lot of media attention in mainstream news sources. Most of the attention was positive, or at minimum neutral. Kim’s campaign introduced many people to the concept of cryonics, and its potential, who would otherwise never have heard about it. It is very important to the survival of cryonics, that its mission is introduced to the world in a hopeful, positive way. Charity work can bring about that positive message.
- We are transhumanists and cryonicists by definition because we believe that technology will overcome our human limitations and ultimately we believe, at least to a degree, that cryonics may work. Following that logic, we are compelled to help Aaron because we know it gives him the best chance at survival.
- One day, it will be my turn, or your turn to face death. I for one am hoping that my community helps me when I am at my most vulnerable. Even with all the money in the world, I cannot plan for every contingency. With or without money, I will need others to get me there. I am hoping that community building efforts such as this will help build that foundation so that when my time comes I will feel secure knowing that everything that can be done to preserve me, will.
- All donations go to the cryonics organization a charity recipient signs up with, not to the charity recipient themselves. If any funds are left over, they will go to another charity campaign. Having more people cryonically preserved helps strengthen the cryonics community.
For anyone that wishes to contribute, big or small, you may do so via The Society for Venturism. They can be reached at http://venturist.info/aaron-winborn-charity.html.
Christine Gaspar is signed up for cryonics and is the President of the Cryonics Society of Canada.