SERGIYEV POSAD, Russia (Reuters) – When the 70-year-old mother of Alexei Voronenkov passed away, he paid to freeze her brain and store it in the hope that scientific discoveries might one day bring her back to life.
It is one of 71 human brains and corpses – which Russian company KrioRus calls "patients" – floating in liquid nitrogen in one of the several-meter-high tanks in a corrugated metal shed just outside Moscow.
They are stored at -196 degrees Celsius (-320.8 ° F) to protect them from deterioration, although there is currently no evidence that science will be able to revive the dead.
"I did that because we were so close and I think this is the only chance we will meet in the future," said Voronenkov, who plans to undergo the procedure, known as cryonics, when he dies.
The head of the Pseudoscience Commission of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Evgeny Alexandrov, described cryonics as "an exclusively commercial enterprise that has no scientific basis," in comments to the Izvestia newspaper.
It is "a fantasy speculating about people's hopes of raising the dead and dreams of eternal life," the newspaper said.
Valeriya Udalova, the KrioRus director who froze her dog when she died in 2008, said humanity is likely to develop the technology to revive dead people in the future, but there is no guarantee of it.
KrioRus says hundreds of potential customers from nearly 20 countries have signed up for the afterlife service.
It costs $ 36,000 for the whole body and $ 15,000 just for the brains of Russians, who earn average monthly salaries of $ 760, according to official statistics. Prices are a bit higher for non-Russians.
The company says it is the only one in Russia and the region. Created in 2005, it has at least two competitors in the United States, where the practice goes back even further.
Voronenkov said he put his hopes in science. "I hope one day it will reach a level where we can produce artificial bodies and organs to create an artificial body into which my mother's brain can be integrated."
KrioRus director Udalova argues that those who pay to have dying relatives remain preserved, showing how much they love them.
"They try to bring hope," she said. “What can we do for our dying relatives or those we love? A beautiful burial, a photo album, ”she said. "They go further, proving their love even more."
Report by Dmitriy Turlyun; Written by Tom Balmforth; Edition by Philippa Fletcher
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