Wrinkles aren’t an issue for the world’s longest “living” human because, well, he’s frozen. Dr. James Bedford has been cryopreserved since 1967 when he was 73, and on October 3, 2015, he stole the crown from current record holder Jeanne Calment, kind of.
AlcorLife Extension Foundation claims that though Bedford isn’t technically alive, he’s not dead either, which makes him a contender for the oldest world record in the book. Jeanne Calment has held the record for almost 20 years; she lived for 122 years, or 44,743 days to be exact. When Bedford went into cardiac arrest and doctors were at a loss for what to do, they turned to cryonics. Immediately following his death, his family sought to preserve Bedford and his brain, at his will, to insure the least amount of damage to his body, in the hope that one day he could be revived.
Bedford was the first person ever to be cryopreserved, and though methods used in 1967 were rudimentary at best, they may be enough for Bedford, and others, to live once again. Legally, Bedford isn’t alive, he was pronounced dead before being frozen, which may cost Bedford the record, but there’s still hope for his survival. Cryopreservation is a “third suspended state akin to a deep coma but where all metabolic activity has halted,” and as long as transfers or current methods haven’t compromised his state, he could still be revived. His son, Norman Bedford, transferred Bedford’s body to the AlcorLife Extension Foundation in 1987 and when they moved him to a customized vessel in 1991, the ice used to cool his body was still very well intact.
When Bedford hit his 44,744 day, the AlcorLife Extension Foundation didn’t hesitate to capitalize on the big news. Alcor is a world leader in cryonics, cryonics research and cryonics technology and is a non-profit organization located in Scottsdale, Arizona. The group believes medical technology will continue to grow exponentially, and in the near future we’ll be able to “heal damage at the cellular and molecular levels and restore full physical and mental health” to those that are currently frozen. Alcor aims to advance their technology with evidence-based research, and they are currently researching memory preservation. As stated on their website, by preserving people as close to their “legal” death as possible, “Alcor seeks to prevent loss of information within the brain that encodes memory and personal identity, which is the true boundary between life and death.” Alcor has a forum to answer questions about what they do and their processes, as well as information available for those interested in being cryopreserved. They currently have 141 cryopreserved patients, and the possibilities are endless. Who knows, Bedford could be the first cryonaut this world has seen.