US cryonics founder dies, has body frozen

Robert Ettinger, founder of a movement that advocates storing bodies at ultra-low temperatures after death until new technology allows them to be revived, has died and his body frozen at the institute he founded, his family said Monday.

Ettinger died on Saturday at his home in Clinton Township, Michigan and "has been frozen at the Institute," a statement sent to AFP by Ettinger's son David said.

The Cryonics Institute, which Ettinger founded in 1976 as a "non-profit organization that could freeze and store patients at death" has more than 900 members around the world and "106 patients in storage," the statement says.

Born in 1918, Ettinger went public with his theory of cryonics in 1964 with the publication of his work "The Prospect of Immortality."

In the book, he contends that "at very low temperatures it is possible, right now, to preserve dead people with essentially no , indefinitely.

"If civilization endures, medical science should eventually be able to repair almost any damage to the , including freezing damage and senile debility or other cause of death," he said in the book.

"No matter what kills us, whether old age or disease, and even if freezing techniques are still crude when we die, sooner or later our friends of the future should be equal to the task of reviving and curing us."

Ettinger's keen interest in the life-saving promise held by future medical technology was sparked, according to the statement, by the years he spent in hospitals after he was seriously wounded in combat in World War II.

"His legs were saved as a result of then innovative bone graft surgery. That sparked Mr. Ettinger's interest in the promise of future medical technology," the statement says.

New editions of "The Prospect of Immortality" are in print or in the planning stage in South Korea, Taiwan and China.

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(c) 2011 AFP

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