A 14-year-old girl who died from cancer won the right to have her body preserved shortly before her death, in case she could be "cured and woken up" in the future. The girl, who lived in the London area and cannot be named, died from a rare form of terminal cancer in October, the BBC reported. She had been using the internet to research cryonics, the freezing of bodies in the hope that cures for diseases and resuscitation are possible in the future, in the months before she died.
Cryonics is a controversial technique as no one knows whether it's actually possible to bring people back from the dead. The girl's mother supported her wish to be preserved, but her father was against the idea, which led to the case being heard at the High Court. The judge ruled that the girl's mother should be allowed to decide what happened to her daughter's body. The ruling has been described as "historic". The girl was reportedly "delighted" by the judge's decision (which has only just been made public) and called him a "hero". Her body is now in the U.S. and is being preserved for an infinite amount of time at a cost of £37,000. It is frozen using liquid nitrogen at a temperature of less than -130C. There are currently no such facilities to enable the procedure in the UK. Before she died, the girl wrote to the judge, Justice Peter Jackson, that she wanted to be frozen to potentially "live longer" if a cure for her disease is found in future, reported the BBC. "I think being cryopreserved gives me a chance to be cured and woken up - even in hundreds of years' time," she wrote. "I don't want to be buried underground. "I want to live and live longer and I think that in the future they may find a cure for my cancer and wake me up."
The girl's case is the only one of its kind to have come before a court in England and Wales and probably anywhere in the world, the judge said. He said the case was about a dispute between parents over how their daughter's body would be disposed, rather than the rights and wrongs of cryonics. The girl's mother and father were divorced and she hadn't seen her father for six years before she developed cancer. Her father said: "Even if the treatment is successful and she is brought back to life in let's say 200 years, she may not find any relative and she might not remember things and she may be left in a desperate situation given that she is only 14 years old and will be in the United States of America," reported the BBC. However, he later came around to the idea and said he respected his daughter's decision. The judge also recommended that ministers consider "proper regulation" of cryonic preservation if it is to happen in the UK in the future.