Freeze your body and cheat death in China – China’s latest society and culture news

Society & Culture

A summary of the top news in Chinese society and culture for August 14, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.

Another scam to draw research funds. This didn’t even succeed in America, and now a small company in Shandong thinks it can make it happen. This is so amusing.

It is terrifying to imagine that when you wake up, all the people who used to be around you don’t exist anymore.

These were some of the reactions on social media platform Weibo (in Chinese) to news reported (in Chinese) by Science and Technology Daily that a 49-year-old woman who died from lung cancer was frozen in a tank of liquid nitrogen at a research institute in Shandong. This was China’s first attempt at cryopreservation, an attempt to have a second chance at life in the future if the technology is ever invented to revive a corpse.

Zhan Wenlian 展文莲 was pronounced clinically dead on May 8 when her heart stopped beating. Zhan’s body was immediately transferred to a medical laboratory of Yinfeng Biological Group, a for-profit research institute based in Shandong where it was placed on a special operating bed that lowered her body temperature to around 18 degrees Celsius. Then the body’s fluids, including water and blood, were gradually replaced by cryoprotective agents that act as an antifreeze to protect the body from crystallization at extremely low temperatures. After six hours of injections, Zhan was stored in a cooling box filled with liquid nitrogen that will keep her body temperature below minus 196 degrees Celsius. The whole process took about 55 hours.

The procedure was overseen by Dr. Aaron Drake, a medical expert from Alcor Life Extension Foundation, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization that in 2015 carried out the cryopreservation of the brain of Chinese writer Du Hong 杜虹, who paid 750,000 yuan ($112,465) for the chance at a second life. According to an employee from Yinfeng, the company’s service is in no way inferior to Western counterparts in terms of facilities and technology. “I don’t know how to put this, but let’s just say what Americans and Russians did were not sophisticated enough,” the employee confidently said. The cost of Zhan’s procedure, normally around 50,000 yuan ($7,500) per year, was reportedly mostly covered by the company. In addition, Zhan was classified as a body donor to the institute, rather than a client, since China lacks official regulations to govern the nascent cryopreservation industry.

—Jiayun Feng