A 14-year-old girl who died of cancer has been cryogenically frozen in the hope that she can be "woken up" and cured in the future after winning a landmark court case in her final days.
The girl's divorced parents had disagreed over whether her wish to be frozen should be followed, so the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, asked a High Court judge to intervene.
‘Fourteen-year-old girl begged judge to allow her to be frozen as she was dying from cancer.’
AdvertisementThe father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, also revealed he is facing his own cancer battle as he tries to come to terms with his ordeal and even spent time in the same hospital as his child without her knowing he was there.
'I had two daughters now I have only one,' he said last night. The girl had wanted to be 'cryo-preserved' after her death, in the hope she could be 'woken up' if doctors found a cure for her rare form of cancer - and wrote to a High Court judge begging for her wishes to be respected.
She died last month and is now suspended in freezing nitrogen at a cryogenic centre in the US. In a heartbreaking letter to the court, she said: "I don't want to die but I know I am going to...I want to live longer...I want to have this chance."
The girl, known as JS, asked Mr Justice Peter Jackson to rule that her mother, who supported her desire to be cryogenically preserved, should be the only person allowed to make decisions about the disposal of her body.
Fearing for her future should she ever be revived, the father known as Mr S fought to stop his 14-year-old daughter, JS, from going ahead with the controversial procedure - but eventually allowed her dying wish to be honoured. Yesterday, he spoke for the first time of his extraordinary court battle and revealed that he had been prevented from seeing her before she died and even after her death from a rare form of cancer.
Her extraordinary case yesterday sparked a fierce debate over the ethics of cryo-freezing - and about the lack of regulation surrounding the cryonics industry in Britain and worldwide. The teenager, from London, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in August last year and announced her wish to be cryo-preserved after all treatment options failed. She researched the process online and told relatives in the months before her death: 'I'm dying but I'm going to come back in 200 years.'
But after a decision that raises profound moral and ethical questions, the judge and the girl's doctors expressed serious misgivings about the process, which did not go entirely according to plan. Her mother spent the last hours of her daughter's life fretting about details of the freezing process, which was "disorganised" and caused "real concern" to hospital staff.
The judge suggested that "proper regulation" of cryonic preservation - which is currently legal but unregulated should now be considered.
Cryogenic preservation of bodies does not fall under the remit of the Human Tissue Authority, which regulates the freezing of sperm and embryos because it was "not contemplated" when the Human Tissue Act 2004 was passed. Cryonics UK, the non-profit organisation that prepared the girl's body for transport to the US, agreed with the judge.