'Cryogenics firm only froze my dad's head'
Son livid at the company’s apparent defiance of his father’s orders
A legal battle is brewing between a US cryogenics facility and the son of one of its clients after the company froze his deceased father’s head instead of his entire body, filings seen by The Daily Telegraph show.
The Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Phoenix, Arizona, is facing a $1m lawsuit after Kurt Pilgeram said he was sent a package from Alcor “which purportedly contained his father’s cremated remains, except allegedly for his father’s head”, which had been transported to a cooler for preservation.
According to legal documents, Pilgeram was “shocked, horrified and extremely distressed” as he knew how important it was for his father, Dr Laurence Pilgeram, to have his whole body preserved.
Dr Pilgeram, a prominent scientist who devoted much of his career to researching the ageing process, collapsed and died of a suspected heart attack on a pavement outside his home in Goleta, near Santa Barbara, California, in April 2015. He was 90.
The claimant argues that Alcor, which is run by Dr Max More, a British-born scientist, was obliged under the agreement to preserve all of his father’s remains “no matter how damaged” and that the company had no right to cremate him.
“There is little, if any, hope of bringing [his] head ‘back to life’ under the circumstances here,” the filing reads.
Lawyers for both sides will pore over the evidence in the coming months ahead of a court date in January, when a trial date is expected to be set. A lawyer acting on behalf of Alcor said the company could not specifically comment on the case.
Dr Pilgeram does appear on the company’s website, which describes him as their 135th patient.
Cryogenics involves deep-freezing the body with the hope that customers might be able to cheat death and return to life in hundreds or even thousands of years’ time. Alcor charges around $200,000 for a whole body or $80,000 for the head, with Dr More himself saying in 2016 that he planned to preserve just his head as “the rest of my body is replaceable”.
The son’s filing against Alcor claims the business knows “that it is extremely unlikely” his father can be resurrected because he was allegedly not preserved until days after he died.
He is claiming $1m in damages, according to the filing.
“Kurt has suffered extreme emotional distress as a result of Alcor’s actions and has been injured as alleged in an amount in excess of $1m,” the legal filings state.
“Alcor undertook such actions maliciously and oppressively, and with the intent to cause injury, such that Kurt is entitled to an award of punitive damages, in addition to general and special damages, of no less than $1m.”
Pilgeram said his father would not have paid for the service if he knew his entire body was not going to be preserved and said the incident has caused him “extreme emotional distress”.
Alcor, which began storing bodies in 1982, has 159 patients whose bodies or brains are being kept at the facility.
– © The Daily Telegraph