A 14-year-old girl who died of cancer has been cryogenically frozen in
the hope that she can be ‘woken up and cured’ in the future after winning
a landmark court case in her final days.
The girl’s divorced parents had disagreed over whether her wish to be
frozen should be followed, so the girl, who cannot be named for legal
reasons, asked a High Court judge to intervene.
In a heartbreaking letter to the court, she said: “I have been asked to
explain why I want this unusual thing done.
“I am only 14 years old and I don’t want to die but I know I am going to
die. I think being cryopreserved gives me a chance to be cured and woken up – even in hundreds of years’ time.
“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.
“I want to have this chance. This is my wish.”
The girl, known as JS, asked Justice Peter Jackson to rule that her
mother, who supported her desire to be cryogenically preserved, should
be the only person allowed to make decisions about the disposal of her
Shortly before her death in a London hospital on October 17, in what is
believed to be a unique case, the judge granted JS her wish. Her body
was frozen and taken to a storage facility in the US. She is one of only 10
Britons to have been frozen, and the only British child.
She told a relative: “I’m dying, but I’m going to come back again in 200
But after a decision that raises profound moral and ethical questions, the
judge and the girl’s doctors expressed serious misgivings about the
process, which did not go entirely according to plan. Her mother spent
the last hours of her daughter’s life fretting about details of the freezing
process, which was “disorganised” and caused “real concern” to
The judge suggested that “proper regulation” of cryonic preservation –
which is currently legal but unregulated should now be considered.
Cryogenic preservation of bodies does not fall under the remit of the
Human Tissue Authority, which regulates the freezing of sperm and
embryos because it was “not contemplated” when the Human Tissue Act
2004 was passed.
Cryonics UK, the non-profit organisation that prepared the girl’s body
for transport to the U.S, agreed with the judge.
A spokesman for the firm said: “We expect that future regulation will
help hospitals to know where they stand legally and procedurally. The
opportunity to utilise professional medical assistance may increase as
we become a recognised and regulated field.”
The case can only now be reported because Justice Jackson ruled that
nothing could be published until one month after JS’s death. He also
ruled that her parents’ names and other specific details should remain
JS, who lived with her mother in London, was diagnosed with a rare form
of cancer last year and by August this year she had been told her illness
was terminal and active treatment came to an end.
She began researching cryonic preservation online – a controversial and
costly process that involves the freezing of a dead body in the hope that
resuscitation and a cure may one day be possible – and decided she
wanted to be frozen after her death.
Because she was too young to make a legally recognised will, she had to
have the permission of both of her parents to sign up for the process.