Boyfriend's love for woman frozen in time

By Debbie Schipp

Kim Suozzi and Josh Schisler. Photo / Facebook
Kim Suozzi and Josh Schisler. Photo / Facebook

Three years on, Kim Suozzi is still speaking from the grave.

And if the 23-year-old American has her way, some time in the future, she'll be speaking again on this earth.

The trouble was, to have a shot at living forever, she had to die first.

Suozzi's brain was cryogenically frozen. When the neuroscience student was diagnosed with an aggressive, terminal brain tumour, she decided she wanted to live forever.

Three years on, her boyfriend, Josh Schisler, has made his final journey with some of her belongings to leave them where she can find them, just in case one day, science and technology develops enough that she can come back.

Josh and Kim's journey - and the story of how brain cancer, crowd-funding and cryogenics collided - is chronicled in a story to air on Australian TV.

For journalist Denham Hitchcock, the tale was the stuff of sci-fi, until he found the very earthly love story behind it.

Kim's father, Rick, still phones her mobile phone daily - not just to hear her voicemail, but to leave messages he hopes she'll find one day in the future if she can be brought back.

And Josh, Hitchcock says, remains a man who takes comfort from the fact his girlfriend succumbed to her cancer happy with the odds - which they both acknowledge are less than 1 per cent - that might give her another shot at life.

Kim was 21 when she was diagnosed with brain cancer, and given a year to live.

As medical options and clinical treatments were exhausted, she started investigating cryogenics, the process by which people are frozen after they die and stored in stainless steel containers, suspended in liquid nitrogen awaiting a scientific breakthrough that will enable them to come back to life, as the next step.

To do that at facilities like the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona, where her head is now stored, cost around A$80,000. The young couple didn't have the cash. Kim didn't have life insurance - which some of the more than 140 'patients' frozen at the facility used.

So they posted on social media, crowd-funded her journey and raised enough for Kim to fund her dream.

The duo's journey - right to the end when she died aged 23 at the facility in Scottsdale - close enough for the process in which he head was removed from her body and then frozen, was chronicled via her own video diary, which she and Josh updated regularly.

It's hard to understand, says Hitchcock, until you meet Josh and Rick, and start investigating the science of cryogenics.

His research took him to Alcor, standing among the 145-plus bodies suspended in liquid nitrogen, and time.

"You can see the liquid nitrogen bubbling out of what is essentially a giant Thermos," he says.

"When I first heard about this it was in the realm of science fiction stuff you'd heard and read about on late night TV.

"But the more you get into it, there is a concrete science and theory behind it. The thought from the people that run these places is that although the technology doesn't exist today to bring somebody back, it will in the future.

"They point to the fact we can freeze organs, and we can freeze human embryos. And it's actually not so long ago that was deemed impossible.

"On the flip side, neuroscientists tell you they 'can't say its impossible' but they will say 'the technology doesn't exist today and its hard to conceive it existing in the future'.

"To rebuild the human brain, you first need to map it - and there are so many pathways in the brain - there are more of then there are stars in the universe.

"If you took all of the hard drives on the earth it wouldn't be enough to store the data from a single human brain. But then, 50 years ago if someone had told you would have a device in your pocket from which you can access any information in the world, talk to people, take photos, an electrical engineer would have said you were mad."

Kim Suozzi has had her brain frozen. Photo / Facebook
Kim Suozzi has had her brain frozen. Photo / Facebook

Following Josh's journey to leave some of Kim's treasured belongings at the cryogenics facility, Hitchcock discovered a man who is torn, but realistic.

"He has love for this girl he met in college, shared an incredibly close bond, and then they were told she had a year to live," Hitchcock says.

"She was not religious - and perhaps that's where cryogenics fills a gap for people, giving them a version of an afterlife - that they end is not really the end.

"It gave Kim comfort and it gives Josh and Rick still comfort today.

"Josh is a man living his life half in the present and one eye on the future. In the end, it's what we all want - comfort and peace of mind when someone is nearing the end and that's what these guys have got."

On ice, as you suspect she may have in life, Kim has the last word.

"The options are either I die, and nothing happens, likely, or I come back and things are weird, probably, but I'm alive again," comes her voice from a Youtube video.

"I think there's a one or two per cent chance of this working ... it's not like I'm counting on it ... but it's definitely worth it."

- news.com.au

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