Two-year-old cryogenically frozen by parents

Technically Incorrect: The parents of a Thai girl who died of brain cancer have had her frozen in the hope that science will one day be able to revive her. She is believed to be the youngest person ever to undergo the procedure.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Matheryn Naovaratpong, said to be the youngest ever recipient of the cryonics procedure. Motherboard. (With Permission)

We talk about the future as if we know what it will be.

Then the present comes along to remind us that we have control over nothing.

One minute, life is ours. The next, it's gone.

Yet some believe that preserving human bodies until science can find a way to revive them is a gamble worth taking, an investment worth making.

On Thursday, Motherboard released the story of what is said to be the youngest ever person to be cryogenically preserved. Matheryn Naovaratpong died of brain cancer aged 2.

Her parents, both doctors, decided that they would employ the services of Alcor. This is the same Arizona-based company that currently holds the frozen remains of baseball great Ted Williams, as well as his son John Henry Williams. It's also a company that has been accused of practices that aren't exactly reliable.

Because of Matheryn's failing health, the cryonic process began in Bangkok. An Alcor staff member was on hand the minute she was pronounced dead to immediately begin preserving her whole body.

The Motherboard article goes into great and painful detail. The cost is, of course, steep. Neurocryopreservation costs $80,000. But if you want the whole body treatment, that's $220,000. Alcor suggests that this is funded through a life insurance policy.

An Alcor spokesman told me that he believes the cost isn't that high. He said: "Compare the cost to that of major medical procedures in the USA and it looks rather inexpensive. Most members pay the cryopreservation cost using life insurance, which can be quite cheap if you are reasonably young and healthy when you get it."

He added that Matheryn's parents paid up front because "they have more resources than average."

Alcor's membership rules state: "Alcor must be designated not only as the beneficiary of the life insurance policy, but also as its owner. This guarantees that the beneficiary cannot be changed without our knowledge, and we will be informed if the premium is unpaid. Alcor will provide a written guarantee that it will surrender its ownership status if you choose to abandon your cryonics arrangements or move to a different organization."

Google's Ray Kurzweil is said to be a member, alongside other tech-focused humans.

Alcor's spokesman told me: "The average age of our living members is 48.3 (based on the last count back in September 2014). Matheryn is easily our youngest patient (previously the youngest was 21), and the oldest is 101."

However, the fact is that humans have no knowledge of how regeneration might occur.

Such freezing of mind and/or body is but a leap of faith that science will catch up and the world will become a place where every part of what we know as the human body will be replaceable by a similar part. Just like our cars and washing machines.

This hasn't stopped parents signing their children up from an extremely early age. (The kids can opt out when they're old enough.)

If you have money and the sort of hope -- for science and for the earth -- that such a procedure might be the beginning of life resuscitation, then you dedicate your money to that hope.

Especially if your two-year-old daughter has been dealt such a cruel hand.

Update, April 18 at 4:43 pm PT: Adds comment from Alcor.