MemberNovember 19, 2020 at 12:00 am
Recently, Alcor released the report of their latest patient. It was a sad case. The man was dead in his home for "an unknown number of days" before he was found. Suffice to say, the odds are against him.
Lots of people have talked about this problem: That is, the problem of high-risk Cryo members who die alone and aren't discovered for extended periods of time.
And, lots of people have talked about solving this via a product/technology. That is – a biomonitor of some kind that would contact help if the person is in medical distress. Here is Ben Best reviewing a large number of them throughout the years (clearly, this problem has been on his mind). This is all well and good, I think these are great efforts and I support them. However, it doesn't seem like these products are really a good fit for our use case. What's more, they're not trivial to setup, maintain, and they have plenty of bugs. Getting old people to take their daily vitamins is hard enough.
So, instead: Here is something we (not some biotech) can do today to address this horrifying problem.
Create a volunteer-driven group that contacts high-risk Cryonics members who live alone at some given interval, empowered to call for wellness checks if they don't hear back from the person within a specified period of time.
Here's specifically how it could work:
- If you're in a high-risk pool, defined as "Living alone or mostly alone + High chance of death"
- Then you will receive a text message, an email, or a phone call every day (or twice a day, or every other day, or whatever, TBD, maybe different people can select different options), that asks you to please respond within a given timeframe – say two hours.
- These automated-services already exist. They often go by the name of "automated text sender" or "deadman's switch" or other related things. They can send emails, text messages, and phone calls.
- If you don't respond to the text within the given timeframe, the system automatically graduates you to a phonecall and alerts the group.
- If you don't respond to that within a given timeframe to the automated services, the group attempts to contact you directly. If that doesn't work, they call for a wellness check (maybe, someday, this check can be performed by other Cryonics members signed up to help in the local area).
Here's a roadmap to implementation:
- Gather a small group (maybe 5-20) of Cryonicists willing to volunteer to help with this project. Serious people only, no slackers, no flakes, no baggage.
- Setup a slack channel for volunteers to coordinate, or use the Cryosphere discord server, I am one of the mods, and I'd be happy to setup a private channel on there for this if people are serious.
- Have this group's point-person reach out to both Alcor and CI and ask them to get in touch with their members (at least the old ones) to see if they'd like to be part of a free and volunteer Cryonicist-run service to check up on them at some regular intervals. Explain to everyone how those texts would escalate to phone calls and then to in-person checkups if there is no response within a given time-frame.
- If the group wants to get fancy, they can implement protocols to create some degree of anonymity/privacy/etc to the text messages and such. I'd be happy to help whoever wants to take point on this to work out the details here, whatever, TBD, yata yata.
- Alcor and CI provide member details of members volunteering to be a part of this service, exchanged with the group privately.
- The group sets up all of the members that have asked to be a part of the program with the automated texting/emailing/calling service they have selected.
- The group then implements round-robin rotations for who takes care to contact those whom they don't hear back from on any given day. This is referred to in the medical field as being "on call". Maybe every volunteer is in charge of being on-call on a different day of month or whatever, so no one gets burnt out.
- Old people don't use tech: Yes, that's true, but most of them have cellphones and I'd imagine Cryonics selects for more tech-savvy people on average given their age. Come on, it's 2020, even grandmas have figured out how to text. Besides, they tend to keep their phones charged because it's how they socialize, and that's something most old people still like to do.
- What if someone doesn't want to be bothered like this every day?: Then they don't sign up. Nothing is fullproof.
- What if people make mistakes and call for a wellness check inappropriately?: Yeah, that would suck. A lot better than the alternative though. Ask patient A-2037 how he'd have felt about the inconvenience. This will happen sometimes, that's life.
- This system isn't guaranteed to work, what if someone dies right after responding to the text?: Getting to patient A-2037 after 24 hours would still have been a lot better than "unknown number of days"
- Isn't this Alcor or CI's job to organize and run something like this?: The orgs are busy enough as it is. This is something we as community members can just do and it could have a real and immediate impact on the Cryo-preservations of real people. It doesn't require fancy new tech products or big investments, just some elbow grease.
- Why not just wait for the tech to get good enough that it's trivial, easy, seamless, and robust enough by itself to solve the problem?: Because Cryonicists are dying in the meantime.
- Why not just tell these people to take care of this themselves, aren't there full-service companies that can do this whole process, not just the initial text or call?: Yes, these exist. Cryonicists don't have to set this up themselves. On the other hand, these are fellow Cryo-members dying and rotting, and it would really help these people living alone to know that fellow Cryonicists are going to be the ones calling for wellness checks and handling the situation if something has actually gone wrong. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather a Cryonicist charged with helping me out is watching over me rather than someone who doesn't understand Cryonics and doesn't believe in it.
I'm sure there are other objections, and I'm sure this won't work for every patient in every case. But, I bet it would work for a lot of them. How many patients could this save from suffering a similar fate as A-2037?
I would spearhead this myself if I had the time, unfortunately I don't right now. I would definitely appreciate someone stepping up to the plate here – and I'm happy to help support this via a private room in the discord server mentioned above, and help financially if the project would have any reasonable operating expenses.
– /u/SelectionMechanism to -cryonics