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Canadian Sues to Freeze Body After Death

VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) - British Columbia is the only place in the world that prohibits cryonics services for people who want their bodies frozen after death, a nonprofit and potential customer claim in court.

The Lifespan Society of British Columbia and Keegan McIntosh say the province's Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act unconstitutionally prohibits the sale of "an arrangement for the preservation or storage of human remains" based on cryonics, irradiation, or "any other means of preservation of storage, by whatever name called, and that is offered, or sold, on the expectation of the resuscitation of human remains at a future time."

Under the act, people can be fined $10,000 and sentenced to a year in jail and corporations can be fined $100,000 for each offence - more, in certain circumstances.

Lifespan and McIntosh sued Her Majesty the Queen on Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court. Cryonics is based "on the possibility that currently untreatable medical conditions including the ordinary biological aging process will be treatable in the future at the time of removal from storage," they say in the complaint.

They challenge the restriction on offering the services to people who have consented to it and who at the time of preservation have "ceased cardiopulmonary function."

The Lifespan Society wants to offer nonprofit cryonics services, including "vitrification," which involves substituting water or water-based liquids for blood in bodies brought to below freezing temperatures to minimize cellular damage.

It also wants to offer cooling, transportation, and suspension services for indefinite storage of human bodies at ultra-low temperatures.

According to the lawsuit, about 200 people are being indefinitely "suspended" at cryonics facilities in Michigan and Arizona. Among the frozen subjects were baseball slugger Ted Williams' head, which became the subject of litigation.

Lifespan acknowledges there are no guarantees, but says cryonics offers a possible option for life after death.

McIntosh is in good health and wants to hire Lifespan, but the prohibition of cryonics services would "delay or hinder his suspension" and put him at risk of "informational-theoretical death," or death that is "absolutely irreversible by any technology."

"In particular, the prospect of brain repair using molecular nanotechnology raises the possibility that medicine might someday be able to resuscitate patients even hours after the heart stops," the claim states.

The plaintiffs want the relevant sections of the law declared unconstitutional as vague, arbitrary, overbroad and an infringement on liberty.

They are represented by Jason Gratl in Vancouver.

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