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Cryonics: definition and preparation

By Aurélie Vasseur, Content Writer

Cryonics represents a fourth mode of disposal for the deceased, as an alternative to those already in common use: burial, cremation and aquamation. It is a process with a very specific purpose. It consists of freezing the body of the deceased person, in the hope that research can eventually regenerate it and revive its consciousness.

Why cryonics?

Researchers working on the subject believe that science will one day be able to bring a human being back to life. Tooday, there are no results confirming that this will be possible for human beings, but in the hope that it will be, it is possible to be cryogenically preserved on death.

Can cryonics be performed in Canada?

Although there are no facilities in Canada for the long-term preservation of a body at very low temperatures yet, Urgel Bourgie/Athos has developed a partnership with a world leader: the Crionics Institute in the USA. We have developed a preparation process that allows us to send the body to the United States. In this article, we explain the various steps involved here in Quebec.


1. Ante-mortem waiting time

When a person is about to die in a medical unit, a team of thanatology technicians is waiting besides the person to be ready when the time comes. This can take from several hours to several days if natural death is expected. Next, the time frame is very short. After death, cells begin to decay rapidly. Since brain cells cannot be regenerated, it is important to start as soon as possible.

2. Declaration of death and initial handling

As soon as death is pronounced by the doctor, an anticoagulant is immediately injected. Cardiac massage is then performed to circulate the anticoagulant throughout the body, keeping the blood as liquid as possible.

3. Cooling

The body must be cooled as quickly as possible. A special process allows ice-cold water to be kept in continuous circulation throughout the procedure, from the place of death to the thanatology laboratory. Ideally, transport should take place within an hour.

4. Praparation at the laboratory

At the laboratory, a team is waiting for the deceased. They are ready to proceed as soon as the body arrives. Cryoprotective liquids are used in several separate injections, one after the other. This stage is monitored remotely by the American laboratory team. It is important to avoid any phenomenon likely to increase pressure (edema, embolism, etc.).

5. Sending the body to the USA

Once the body has been prepared, it is placed on its back with its arms on either side in a special thermal container adapted to the standards set by the cryonics institute. The deceased is wrapped in a cotton shroud and placed on dry ice, which is also placed on each side and on top of the body. It is then kept in a monitored freezer for three days, until the body reaches the temperature of the dry ice. Once this period has elapsed, the container is placed in an insulated wooden box for transport, which can then be carried out without any major time constraints, as the deceased is well protected by the dry ice inside the thermal box.

The time between death and arrival at the USA facility is around five days. During this time, Urgel Bourgie/Athos, in addition to preparing the deceased, takes care of all legal and customs formalities.

Finally, the deceased is placed in a liquid nitrogen cylinder at a temperature of -196 degrees Celcius, to await conclusive results for an indefinite period.