12 January 1967

James Bedford becomes the first person to be cryonically frozen with the aim of future resuscitation.

On 12 January, 1967, Dr. James H. Bedford became the first man to enter cryonic suspension. The story of his suspension and his care over the intervening years is covered elsewhere. The purpose of this article is to document Dr. Bedford’s condition as assessed by a brief external exam conducted on 25 May, 1991. At this time, Dr. Bedford was transferred from the horizontal sealed-in-the-field cryogenic dewar into which he had been welded in April of 1970 to a state-of-the-art multipatient dewar.

Overall this examination indicates that the patient has at least not been warmed above 0°C. Further, the presence of undenatured hemoglobin as evidenced by the presence of bright red blood, and the appearance of the water ice remaining on the patient, including what appeared to be loose condensed “frost” from his cooling to -79°C suggests that rewarming was not to any high subzero temperature.

In the cryonics community, the anniversary of his cryopreservation is celebrated as “Bedford Day.” The story even made the cover of a limited print run of Life magazine before the presses were stopped to report the deaths of the three astronauts in the Apollo 1 fire instead.Bedford’s body was maintained in liquid nitrogen by his family in southern California until 1982, when it was then moved to Alcor Life Extension Foundation, and has remained in their care to the present day.