Knowing she only had weeks to live, a dying 14 year old schoolgirl, described as a “bright, intelligent young person”, desperately turned to cryogenics in the hope that one day, a cure would be found and she would be brought back to life. The teenager spent her last months fervently researching how she could be frozen until a cure is found for her rare form of cancer in the future.
As she ran out of time, her divorced parents were locked in a bitter battle about what to do with her remains after she died.
Due to her young age, she couldn’t make a will, so she did the best thing to make sure her wish was carried out. The teenager went to court to protect her dying wish.
In a heartbreaking letter to the judge, she said that while she did not want to die, she had accepted her fate.
“I have been asked to explain why I want this unusual thing done.
I am only 14 years old and I don’t want to die but I know I am going to die.
I think being cryo-preserved gives me a chance to be cured and woken up – even in hundreds of years’ time.
I don’t want to be buried underground.
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.
This is my wish.”
Presiding judge Mr Justice Peter Jackson said:
“She died peacefully in the knowledge her body would be preserved in the way she wished.” The mother, who lived with her child in London, supported her.
After a battle in the High Court, her wish came true and she made British legal history.
Details of the case was only revealed now after the youngster passed away last month.
Her remains have already been shipped to the US for storage.
Her father, whom she had not seen for eight years and did not want any contact with, was, initially against the move.
He said he was worried about his daughter potentially being revived as a 14-year-old, in America in the distant future.
The father said:
“Even if the treatment is successful and she is brought back to life in, let’s say, 200 years, she may not find any relative and she might not remember things.
“She may be left in a desperate situation – given that she is still only 14 years old – and will be in the United States of America.”
But he eventually backed down, telling the court:
“I respect the decisions she is making. This is the last and only thing she has asked from me.”
The judge said the father’s change of heart was understandable and added:
“No other parent has ever been put in his position.”
Her application is the only one of its kind to have come before a court in England and Wales – and possibly elsewhere, according to Mr Justice Jackson.
He said he was not ruling on the rights and wrongs of cryogenic science but on the disagreement between the parents.
Because the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was too ill to attend court, the judge went to see her in hospital.
He said he had been moved by the “valiant way” in which she had faced her “predicament”.
The girl is now among a small number of people frozen in the hope that future science means they will one day be brought back to life. She is the 143rd patient.
Soon after death, patients are put in an ice bath to cool the body before it is pumped full of an “organ preservation solution”.
Those like the schoolgirl who come from outside the US are flown or shipped over while packed in ice.
Once in the facility, the body is further cooled under computer control by nitrogen gas at a temperature of -110C over several hours.
During the next two weeks, their temperature is lowered to -196C before being suspended in liquid nitrogen in a “patient care bay”, waiting for the day science can revive them.
Since the technology was introduced in the 1960s, only three organisations – two in the US and one in Russia – have made it a commercial business, the court heard.
People planning to be frozen include
Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane
Talkshow host Larry King
X Factor chief Simon Cowell
Singer Britney Spears
People who have already been frozen
James Bedford, a 73-year-old psychologist, who was the first in 1967
Baseball legend Ted Williams, whose head and body are being stored separately
Matheryn Noavaratpong, two years old, from Bangkok in Thailand who is the youngest to be frozen after her death from brain cancer in 2015.