Most of us have imagined what life after death looks like, but how many of us have imagined being brought back to life?
Goulburn father and son, Ron and Guy Fielding, aged 79 and 42 respectively, are prepared to pay a total of about $65,000 for the privilege other people such as Walt Disney were long-rumoured (albeit falsely) to have also signed up for.
The cab driver and club manager have each paid a $1600 deposit to be cryogenically frozen at the Cryonics Institute in Chicago. They will pay the remaining $64,000 when they die.
Cryonics is a relatively new science that allows people to be frozen in the hope of one day being revived instead of being cremated or buried.
As soon as the person dies, their body is taken to their chosen centre and cooled on dry ice until it reaches minus-130 degrees Celcius. The body is then placed into a container that is placed into a larger metal tank filled with liquid nitrogen at a temperature of around minus-196 degrees Celcius. They will remain there until technology allows them to be revived.
The chance at a second life may carry a heavy price tag, but as Ron and Guy say, even a cremation or burial costs thousands of dollars.
Ron had heard about cryonics many years ago and needed a family member or friend to sign up with him to be accepted into the Cryonics Institute. That’s when Ron put his hand up.
However, the pair would prefer to be frozen in Australia and they hope Southern Cryonics in Holbrook, southern NSW will be finished in time.
Southern Cryonics founder Peter Tsolakides says the building is finished and equipment is due to arrive in March.
However, people in Australia will need to be trained to freeze their patients cryogenically and, at the moment, the only people with the know-how are overseas or interstate. The company is waiting for the COVID-19 pandemic to be over to proceed.
Ron and Guy are both aware that their choice isn’t widely supported, especially not by their family members who think it’s too expensive, are against the idea for religious reasons or worry what they’ll come back to.
“It’s hard to convince people it will work, but I’m a fairly open-minded person, and with science and technology advancing, I can see the possibility there,” Guy said.
“Yes we’re taking a gamble, but you can never say never, and the alternative is to be buried or cremated, which there is no chance of coming back from.”
Likewise, Ron said: “Look how far we’ve come in the past 200 years. We only started flying planes in the 1900s and now they’re going to the moon. I’m a great believer in science, and I just believe it’s going to happen one day.”
As for what they’ll do if they are brought back to life, Ron would like to see how current family members’ lives panned out, while Guy will be eager to explore the new world he wakes up to.
Both expect Earth, if it still exists then, will look very different.
“There won’t be petrol or tyres, we’ve got to run out of materials in the earth eventually, and I don’t think people will be working, I think everything will be done by robots,” Ron said.
Whatever the future, if everything does go to plan, Guy is glad that he’ll be waking up with his father.