Health & Science: Family freezes patriarch's body in hopes of eventual
Copyright © 2001
Scripps Howard News Service
By ANN CARNAHAN Scripps Howard News Service
NEDERLAND, Colo. (December 31, 2001 1:17 p.m. EST) - It's 1:30 on a
Wednesday afternoon, and iceman Bo Shaffer is about to earn a couple hundred
bucks to pack 1,500 pounds of dry ice on the body of a dead man.
"This isn't a bad job," says Shaffer, an environmental consultant who comes
to this hillside every month to ice up the corpse.
Shaffer unlocks the Tuff Shed door to reveal a tall wooden crate. Inside the
crate is an aluminum casket, home of Bredo Morstoel, who died in 1989.
Shaffer and an assistant remove the crate's lid and lift off a piece of blue
Lying atop the casket is a dime-store thermometer, which Shaffer picks up
and reads. "Minus 75 degrees," he says, obviously pleased.
Still frozen after all these years.
More than 12 years after Bredo Morstoel died of heart failure in his native
Norway, his body is preserved in a backyard cryogenics lab overlooking the
His grandson, Trygve Bauge, formerly of Nederland, hopes medical technology
will eventually be able to revive his grandfather or genetically recreate
him by copying the DNA in his cells.
"I applaud the company that recently had a breakthrough with cloning in the
U.S.," said Bauge by telephone from Oslo, where he now lives. "So far,
they've been able to clone animals. The next step is to clone DNA from dead
In Norway, Bauge organizes health retreats, where participants take ice
baths. A self-described entrepreneur, he hopes to launch "various
life-extension centers" that focus on health and cryogenics.
Bauge was deported from the United States in 1994 after a seven-year fight
with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. He wires Shaffer $674 every
month to pay for the ice and labor.
To date, it's cost $130,000 to keep Morstoel frozen.
Some of the money came from Bauge's inheritance from his grandfather. Most
is paid by Aud Morstoel, who is Bredo's daughter and Bauge's mother. Aud
Morstoel, who lives with Bauge, was once head of Norway's largest pharmacy.
She vows to continue paying for the ice deliveries "as long as it is
Much of the $130,000 was spent soon after Morstoel died to fly his body from
Norway to a cryogenics facility in California, where it was initially stored
in liquid nitrogen. The body remained there until January 1994, when Bauge
brought it to Nederland.
Bauge, 44, stored the remains at his unfinished home in Nederland along with
the body of Al Campbell, a Chicago man.
Soon after, exasperated town leaders tried to force Bauge to remove the
bodies, but it was determined there was no health hazard and Bauge
But Campbell's friend got "cold feet" and decided to bring Campbell's body
back to Chicago, Bauge said. "I think he was thawed out and buried
regularly," Bauge says.
Scientists have long been skeptical that Morstoel could be revived.
Morstoel's body was left putrefying at room temperature for 72 hours after
his death because Norway has a law against freezing newly dead bodies. That
resulted in the death of cells. Also, the dry ice surrounding Morstoel's
body is primitive compared to the techniques used by established cryogenics
Morstoel was set to be cremated after he died, but Bauge intervened. Bauge
said he never asked his grandfather whether he wanted to be frozen.
"I never had a chance to ask him," Bauge said. "I didn't expect him to die.
It came as a surprise."
Morstoel was 89 when he died in his sleep. He had been to Colorado twice
before it became his final, or nearly final, resting place.
Every month, Shaffer packs in the new ice. He keeps a bottle of Old Granddad
on a shelf in the Tuff Shed. Some months, he takes a swig in honor of
The casket is wrapped in chains so "he can't get out," Shaffer jokes.
Every month, Shaffer e-mails Bauge. He tells him the amount of ice he packed
on and whether the shed needs any repairs.
And eight time zones away, Bauge vows to continue his grandfather's
"Lots of religious groups say, 'Come follow me and you'll have eternal
life,'" Bauge says. "They end up as rotten corpses in the graveyard. They
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