back to article Organ banks on horizon as boffins prep tissue-freeze tech

Once again disregarding the warnings of science fiction, boffins in America are seeking to develop technology which will allow human parts to be frozen indefinitely in organ banks for use in on-demand transplants. “The goal is to make human cells survive on ice. Twenty-four hours on ice is pushing it and many people die …


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  1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge


    Well Lewis, that was a deeply disturbin spin on what I think is probably a potentially very cool (and useful) technology.

    I may not sleep well tonight. Carry on then...

  2. Ian Stephenson
    Thumb Up

    Body mortgage ftw!

    You missed mortgages secured on organs Lewis - aanother SciFi staple.

    -and one of my favourites - Spares (Michael Marshall Smith)

  3. Ogi
    Thumb Up

    This is a good development

    "society's hunger for fresh organs becomes sufficiently powerful that black-market "organlegger" gangsters seize people off the street and break them up for parts"

    We already have that. Kidnapping of people to be broken up for their organs has been going on for the last 30 years or so, with organs mostly going to the US due to many more people in need of an organ than those willing to donate, coupled with a lot of money to be made.

    In fact I think this development will reduce the demand for black market organs. Currently if an organ doner dies they have about 2 days to find matches for all the organs or they go to waste. With this system we can store those organs for extended periods of time, thereby increasing the pool of available doner organs for everyone.

    It would also allow for larger searches. No longer do you have to search only the local area/district/country but you can take your time and search worldwide, then organise shipping etc... without worrying whether the organ will still be usable by the time it arrives.

  4. Andy Farley


    I was taken over by an ancient telepath from a deceased race who made me do awful things last night.

    I'm sure he was only able to take me over as I'd weakened my mind with beer.

    1. Captain Thyratron

      Was it...

      ...Kzanol's Thrintun Ale, by chance?

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Note that stem cells to grow organs were barely heard of in the 60's

    Both of these technologies have taken ridiculous amounts of time for people to start seriously investigating how to make them work for real

    Some sort of viable whole body freezing and revival scheme would be an excellent way to cut the size of ships to Mars as well as reducing the number of transplant candidates who died because they literally ran out of time.

    However stem cells should eliminate all rejection issues (and the lifetime supply of immunosuppressant drugs needed to support them).

  6. Anonymous Coward

    So what is a minor capital offence?

    'It would seem that the dark future postulated by Larry Niven among others, in which voters desperate to increase the organ supply (and thus their own longevity) begin to insist on the death penalty for even minor crimes, may be upon us.'

    This could be a major benefit, there are certainly people who's best service to humanity would be to become organ doners, but my only worry is that I may accidently take a photo of a policeman.

    But on a serious note, if this works, it is a major step forward for people needing transplants.

  7. publius

    Want more organs?

    Just eliminate speed limits. Problem solved, as long as the condition of the organs isn't a big concern.

    Of course, the Swedes and Swiss will have to find a new way to fund their governments.

    1. TimeMaster T


      get rid of Motorcycle Helmet laws. As I remember they reduced the available transplant organ supply quite a bit.

  8. LINCARD1000

    Defrosted Critters

    The Weta, an insect native to NZ is able to survive being frozen solid and quite happily resumes it's crittering when thawed. Bit more advanced than an ice-worm so surprised they aren't investigating this sort of creature as it's a little higher on the food-chain.

    1. J Lewter


      It would depend on how much genetic testing has been done on the Weta in the past, If the mapping and research is far enough behind they could spend 10 years just getting the basics down.. Fly's and Worms have been science fodder for years and it's probably much easier for them to "tinker" with the genetic sequences.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Would they be engaged in arms trading?

    Next thing we know thing the government will want to discourage this by insisting that we all have ID cards, with DNA samples on file in a central database.


  10. Sweep

    Fruit flies holding the secret....

    ...I doubt that there's anything special about fruit flies, they're just a standard organism for this type of research, with very well understood genetics, like lab mice

  11. Dr Christian
    Thumb Up

    freeze me now

    wake me in a hundred or so years

    1. Captain Thyratron

      Be careful what you wish for!

      If they do it wrong, you might end up being a corpsicle assigned to a ramship mission.

  12. ian 22
    Paris Hilton

    Organleggers? Meh.

    At my age, no one wants my organs, not even Paris. As the current owner, I'm not pleased with them either. Too much wear, not enough lubrication.

    Being old might become an advantage in the age of organ legging, although even dirty old men need love.

  13. Martin Howe

    Not just Niven either....

    Creep: You can't arrest me, Judge! OK, so I had a transplant, but what *crime* did I commit?

    Dredd: Receiving stolen goods!!

    Classic 2000AD organ leggers from the late 1970s, those were the days :)

  14. Keller Drozdick
    Thumb Up

    Thanks for the Niven refernce

    Just wanted to pass along thanks for the Larry Niven reference. One of my favorite hard sci-fi authors, and always wish he was more widely read.

  15. Mike Flugennock

    Frozen flies? Why am I somehow reminded...

    Anybody else here remember a piece posted on the Web about ten, fifteen years ago by a guy who used flies to power a small model airplane by first freezing the flies, gluing them to the wings of the model airplane and then, when the flies revived, presto! Instant model airplane engines!

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