Thursday, January 12, 2012

Happy Bedford Day

Happy “Bedford Day”. Forty five years ago today, at 1:15 pm on January 12th 1967, seventy three-year-old James Hiram Bedford died of Kidney cancer that had metastasized to his lungs. The modern concept of hospice care would not be truly introduced into the US by Cicely Saunders for another two years. James was being cared for by a Seventh Day Adventist couple in a “Nursing Home” they operated out of a space Bedford rented to them.

After James was pronounced dead by his physician, Dr. B. Renault Able, they (Able and the Seventh Day Adventist caregiver Mr Raymond Vest) poured crushed ice over him and began CPR. They performed CPR on his corpse for over an hour until Robert F. Nelson (a.k.a. Robert Buccelli) arrived and began injecting pure DMSO into Mr. Bedford’s carotid arteries. CPR continued for another hour until the injections were complete. James was then wrapped in his ice soaked bed sheet, transferred to a large foam box, and covered in one-inch-thick slabs of dry ice.

By 5 O’clock James had become the first cryopreserved human being. Within six days he would be transferred to Phoenix Arizona where he would be immersed in liquid nitrogen. The next six folks Bob Nelson would “preserve” were not transferred to liquid nitrogen before their dry ice evaporated and they experienced significant decomposition.

James Bedford was a doctor of psychology at the University of California Berkley where he published on the subject of occupational counseling. He had answered a 1965 announcement that read:

“the Life Extension Society now has primitive facilities for emergency short term freezing and storing our friend the large homeotherm (man). LES offers to freeze free of charge the first person desirous and in need of cryogenic suspension”

The Life Extension Society was the brainchild of Evan Cooper, who left cryogenic research entirely three years after James became the first cryogenically preserved man. His wife Mildred explained that:

"He turned away from cryonics because of overload, burn-out, and a general sense that it was not going to be a viable option in his lifetime."

Cooper was lost at sea while sailing sometime in 1983. Bedford’s corpse remains frozen in Dewar of liquid nitrogen somewhere in Scottsdale Arizona.

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