The Grapevine

Girl, 14, Who Died Of Cancer Is Cryogenically Frozen In Hopes Of Future Cure

A 14-year-old’s dead body has been cryogenically frozen in the hope that she can “be cured and woken up — even in hundreds of years’ time,” the BBC has reported.

That statement came from a letter the British teen, known only as J.S., wrote to a judge during her legal fight to be frozen once she died of the rare and terminal cancer she was diagnosed with last year. The issue at the heart of the dispute was largely a disagreement between her divorced parents about whether to fulfill her wish of being frozen, an idea she came up with after researching it online. The estranged father, whom the Telegraph says also has cancer, reportedly worried about what would happen when she was brought back to life, a young teen in a strange country without any relatives.

“I am only 14 years old and I don't want to die but I know I am going to die,” the teen’s letter read, according to the BBC. “I want to live and live longer and I think that in the future they may find a cure for my cancer and wake me up. … I want to have this chance.” The girl also expressed that she didn’t want to be buried underground.

She won the fight just before she died in October, and her body has since been taken to the United States to be preserved at an extremely low temperature, the BBC said.

snowflake-1245747_1920 A girl was cryogenically frozen, her body preserved through an extremely low temperature, with the hope she could one day be revived, have her cancer cured, and live a longer life. Image courtesy of Pixabay, public domain

The premise of being cryogenically frozen in liquid nitrogen is that the person can be warmed and revived at a future time when medicine can cure their terminal ailment, but it is not yet clear whether someone can actually be awoken and brought back to life.

The Telegraph referred to it as “teetering between science fiction and science fact,” adding that “cryonics is a leap of faith, relying entirely on future medical advances that may or may not happen. Its proponents frame it as a choice between ‘definitely’ dying and ‘maybe’ living on.”

That publication says the girl is the only British child to have been cryogenically frozen, and is one of just 10 Britons to undergo the postmortem procedure. Her mother’s parents “raised the money needed for her body to be frozen and taken to a storage facility in America — one of only two countries, along with Russia, that has facilities for storing frozen bodies.” In U.S. dollars, that sum was about $45,000.

The judge in the case, Justice Peter Jackson, said the girl “died peacefully in the knowledge that her body would be preserved in the way she wished,” according to the Telegraph.

This is not the first heavily publicized story this year in which a terminally ill child died under their own terms. A couple of years ago, Belgium became the first country to allow terminally ill and suffering minors to choose to end their lives — with parental consent — and this past September was the first time a Belgian minor chose that route, the International Business Times reported. A 17-year-old was euthanized.

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