It's the ultimate gamble in a bid to extend human life.
Now an Australian organisation is set to break ground on a A$500,000 NSW facility to offer people the chance to be cryogenically frozen after death in the hope that they could one day come back to life.
Southern Cryonics is searching for a construction firm to develop their warehouse-style project in Holbrook that is being funded by 10 Australian investors that have pitched in A$50,000 each.
Once completed, Australia will become just the third country in the world after the US and Russia where bodies can be frozen at an estimated A$90,000 per person.
Spokesman Matt Fisher, 34, said there are no guarantees but for many interested in the process the indefinite wait is a risk worth taking.
"If you have to choose between burial, cremation or being cryogenically preserved then there's only one of those three options that gives you any chance of being healed in the future," he told news.com.au
"There are no guarantees that it will work but all cryonics organisations are very upfront about that and people have different opinions about how likely it is that it will work. The idea is to essentially stay alive as long as possible and that has the added benefit of allowing the preservation technology to get better and better."
HOW IT WORKS
While brains have been frozen by Australia's Neural Archives group, no frozen bodies are stored in the country. Fisher said they are pushing for new regulation and laws to govern the process which is not specifically dealt with by legislation, raising a host of ethical issues.
The process involves having a cryonics team on standby as close to the person's death as possible. The body is then drained of blood which is replaced with a cold saline solution before "cryo protestants" are added to prevent ice crystals forming, Fisher said.
From there, it's transferred to a liquid nitrogen vessel where the temperature is slowly lowered to the minus 196C at which it can be preserved indefinitely. What happens next is anyone's guess.
"The technology to revive someone from being at liquid nitrogen temperature doesn't exist yet and no one would try it at this point," Mr Fisher said.
"You need the two technologies in order to come out of preservation which are the cure for whatever it is that killed you and the technology to undo any damage from the freezing process.
"Estimates on when that sort of thing might eventuate vary wildly between 15 to 20 years if you're being extremely optimistic to 100, 200, 500 years if you're being more pessimistic. But once you're preserved, the beauty of that is that it doesn't really matter anymore because you're not experiencing anything. There's no attempt at waking, there's no dreaming or anything like that.
"From the patient's perspective it will be like they fall asleep in a hospital bed and they wake up the next second and haven't experienced any of the intervening time so you can afford to wait as long as you need."