The following is a message sent yesterday by Robert Ettinger, President
of the Cryonics Institute, to Cryonet. I'm posting it here because not
every Extropian List reader follows Cryonet daily, but some of those who
don't might be aware of Mr. Swayze's situation and, perhaps, be
interested in helping.
Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2001 09:35:29 EDT
Subject: Saving James Swayze
SAVING JAMES SWAYZE
Most Cryonet readers are probably familiar with the James Swayze
situation. James is almost completely paralyzed, and under federally
subsidized care. That care has a price. All his earnings have been taken
away, and whatever he might somehow manage to earn will also be taken
away. His health is precarious, but his determination and his
intelligence are not. He learned about cryonics, and the possibility
that through cryonics he might yet overcome his unfortunate situation.
He wants to try. The only problem is that he can't afford it.
CI, and I personally, would very much like to see Mr. Swayze get his
chance. The difficulty is that no cryonics organization can simply
provide suspensions free of charge. Suspensions are expensive, and that
expense is ongoing, as daily care and maintenance and supplies are needed
to safeguard patients. Cryonics organizations cannot get into the habit
of taking financial losses, even for charitable purposes. We saw that
happen many years ago with the Chatsworth situation. There, charity
patients were accepted. But with no money to fund their care, or pay
company bills, the company failed, and those patients and all the
patients were lost.
CI has determined that that will never happen to our patients, and so it
is CI policy that funding, in every case, has to be adequate and certain.
Nonetheless, I and a number of others at CI have been trying to come up
with some way to give James his chance.
My own ideas have gone through several phases. At one point I thought CI
might reasonably give James a price break, or even fund his suspension in
exchange for his active help in public relations. But as I learned more
about his situation, it became clear that this might not be fair either
to CI or to him. From our point of view, the potential value of his PR
help is really uncertain -- it could be considerable, or it could be
negligible, and there is a legal question as to whether he can earn
anything at all without government regulations interfering. From his
point of view, the demands on his time might be counter-productive. His
health varies from bad to very bad, and forcing someone in poor health to
work for what might be a very long time is neither wise nor fair. He
ought to use his time as he sees fit, perhaps to work on his inventions,
perhaps just to extract a bit of enjoyment from life.
Rudi Hoffman did a lot of work on life insurance possibilities, providing
some interesting potential for future problem cases, but leaving gaps in
James' case, about which I won't go into in detail here.
So I think now that it just comes down to individuals coming together
voluntarily to donate the cost of a CI suspension for him. To make that
possible, I've made a personal decision.
Just under $10,000 has been pledged so far. The total required --
suspension fee, membership fee, and local and transportation costs -- we
figure $33,000. That leaves us $23,000 short, assuming all the previous
pledgers make good.
I now make the following commitment. If we can get another $10,000 in
donations, paid to CI along with payments for the previous pledges (total
$20,000), then I will personally make up the difference (i.e., fund up to
I don't want to be misunderstood. I hope we can get a total donation sum
of $33,000. But if we achieve at least $20,000, and we seem to be nearly
halfway there already, then I will make up the difference.
Now, a few particulars. Every plan can be argued and nitpicked back and
forth, but I want to avoid argument and get cracking, so the following is
not just an idea or a suggestion but the plan:
1. We want donations, not pledges -- cash, not promises. Please send your
donations as soon as possible, payable to Cryonics Institute. (On the
memo line of the check, usually at the lower left -- not on the payee
line -- you may write "James Swayze Fund.") Mail it to Cryonics
Institute, 24355 Sorrentino Court, Clinton Township, Michigan 48035. You
will of course receive an acknowledgement. Donors' names and amounts will
be kept confidential if requested -- though we'd prefer to thank you
publicly and make your generosity public at some point. Setting an
example for others could inspire others to help.
2. We do not plan to announce the status of the fund until the goal of
$20,000 is conclusively passed. Otherwise, obviously, some potential
donors might hold off, hoping their own contributions will not be needed.
Please, don't hold off for any reason -- James' health is much more
problematical than that of most people, and it would be ghastly if he
were to miss his chance by a hair.
3. Donations are not refundable, except as follows. If donations should
happen to exceed $33,000, the overage will be refunded pro rata (the same
percentage of each donation will go back to each donor). If James should
die before the necessary amount is reached and he is not suspended by CI,
all donations will be refunded. And if enough money is not raised over a
reasonable period, any donations made will be returned to those making
I hope that all $33,000 can be raised. But at the moment raising even
$10,000 (beyond the current pledges) could secure a cryonic suspension,
and the possiblity of a new life, for James Swayze. $10,000 dollars
seems like a lot of money, I know. But there are said to be approaching
a thousand people in the world who are signed-up members of cryonics
organizations. Some are comfortably off, some of them are quite wealthy,
and all of them are able to meet the costs of membership and insurance.
If each one sends in what he can afford without hardship, James Swayze
would be able to realize the hope all of us have -- a chance of a new and
healthy life in an amazing future. We've all seen a lot of disagreement
among cryonicists on this list. Let's put it behind us, and pull
together this once, to help a friend--a man of extraordinary spirit, who
needs to have his extraordinarily bad luck mitigated.
The Cryonics Institute
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