Once the person in question is declared legally dead, the process of preserving them can begin, and it’s an intense one. First, the standby team transfers the patient from the hospital bed into an ice bed and covers them with an icy slurry. Then Alcor uses a “heart-lung resuscitator” to get the blood moving through the body again. They then administer 16 different medications meant to protect the cells from deteriorating after death. As they note on their website, “Because cryonics patients are legally deceased, Alcor can use methods that are not yet approved for conventional medical use.” Once the patient is iced up and medicated, they move them to a place for surgery.
The next step includes draining as much blood and bodily fluids as possible from the person, replacing them with a solution that won’t form ice crystals—essentially the same kind of antifreeze solution used in organ preservation during transplants. Then a surgeon opens up the chest to get access to the major blood vessels, attaching them to a system that essentially flushes out the remaining blood and swaps it with medical grade antifreeze. Since the patient will be in a deep freeze, much of the preparatory work involves trying to ensure that ice crystals don’t form inside the cells of the body.