A young girl’s wish to be cryogenically frozen after her untimely death has been granted in the final days before her death by a judge. The court case is unique and a first of its kind, but it’s likely we will be seeing a lot more these cases in the future.
The young girl, who is only identified by the letters JS, passed away in October, 2016, in London, England hospital after a battle with cancer. She wanted to be frozen after she passed in the hopes of being able to be brought back if a cure for cancer is ever found in the future. Her parents, who were divorced, disagreed.
Her mother supported her daughter’s decision to be frozen after her death, but her father did not. JS decided to take the matter to the courts and let a judge decide. In the letter she wrote to the court she pleaded her case, writing: ‘I don’t want to die but I know I am going to…I want to live longer…I want to have this chance,’ reports CNN.
The judge presiding over the case was Mr. Justice Peter Jackson and JS implored him to rule in her mother’s favor, letting her make all the decisions about what happens to her body after she passes.The judge ruled in the girls and her mother’s favor, but there were some unanticipated complications.
Beyond the abstract moral and ethical questions the whole case raises, there were some real problems with the whole thing. In the last few hours of the girl’s life, her mother was preoccupied with figuring out the details of the freezing process. Which according to reports was ‘disorganized’ and left the hospital staff with ‘real concern.’
Currently, cryonic preservation is legal but it’s not regulated. It doesn’t fall under the authority of the Human Tissue Authority which is in charge of regulating the freezing of sperm and embryos. The Human Tissue Act was passed in 2004 and, at the time, cryonic freezing was not on the agenda at all. The girl’s body was sent to the US to be frozen. It was all organized by Cryonics UK which is a non-profit organization.
The reason that this is being reported about now is because Justice Jackson ruled that nothing about this case can be reported until a month after the girl had passed, and no personal details about her or her parents are allowed to be published. This case has put a spotlight on cryonic freezing and is going to lead to a push for a more regulated process. JS is one of only ten Britons that have been cryogenically frozen, and the only British child.