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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

The Splinter's Afterlife: Report of Lurid Details

Aired August 13, 2003 - 20:34   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: This week's "Sports Illustrated" features some lurid new details on what's become of the Splendid Splinter, the late Ted Williams . Among them, his head has been separated from his body and that of several of his DNA samples are missing.
But our next guest says the whole story is based on the word of a disgruntled former employee.

I'm joined now by Carlos Mondragon. He's the director -- a director, that is, of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, where Williams' body is said to be held.

This is such a bizarre story for our viewers, Carlos. Tell us what you can about Ted Williams' body.

CARLOS MONDRAGON, DIR., ALCOR LIFE EXTENSION FOUNDATION: First of all, we never confirm or deny the identities of any our patients or our members who are signed up for cryonics suspension. Although we aren't regulated by the same agencies that regulate hospitals, we do try to adhere to the same kind of ethics that all medical professionals adhere to and part of that is keeping our patients' identities confidential

BLITZER: All right. But just for the -- for those of our viewers who don't know what cryonics really is -- what's the purpose? If,in fact, you did have Ted Williams' body, what would be the purpose of that?

MONDRAGON: Well, the purpose of cryonics suspension -- people sign up for cryonics suspension because they have a disagreement with conventional medicine as to where we draw the line between life and death. And we're hoping that someday technology will be equal to the task of repairing us, if our bodies are preserved as well as we have the technology to preserve them now.

BLITZER: So, in other words, if the body is frozen, 100 years from now or 500 years from now or 30 years from now, you might be able to bring that body back to life. Is that what you believe?

MONDRAGON: Exactly. What we believe is that we are informational beings, that as long as you can look at a body in a non- functional state and infer what the functional state would be, it's too early to give up on the patient. As you know, in the last few decades, medical science has constantly moved the bar further and further away from what used to be called death. Right now, Wolf, where you're sitting, if you were to have a heart attack and stop breathing -- well, chances are you, you could be recovered because there's people around you who know CPR and you're close to good hospitals. Thirty years ago, you would have been declared dead. Well, I don't think God changed his mind about what life and death is, the universe didn't change the way people are constructed. The only thing that changed is our level of technology and how we can apply that technology.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Well, without getting into the specifics of Ted Williams, which I understand you won't discuss, you can't discuss, would it be normal, though, in this kind of cryonics procedure to separate the head from the body?

MONDRAGON: Actually, recently, that's become an option in the last couple of years. We've developed what's called vitrification technology, which is a vast improvement in the way storage is -- storage procedures are done. It minimizes the damage that is caused by storage at ultra low temperatures, but it can only be applied to small objects. So a lot of members have decided that they want their brains preserved by vitrification, but they also want their bodies preserved. So it's become an option in the last two years.

BLITZER: All the publicity surrounding Ted Williams' body, has that generated a lot more business for your company?

MONDRAGON: I wouldn't say a lot. It certainly has generated a lot of interest. Whenever there's any kind of publicity, we hear from people who have been interested in cryonics for many years but never knew where to find out about it or how to find it. So we get those kinds of calls.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to leave it right there. Mr. Carlos Mondragon, thanks very much for joining us.

MONDRAGON: Thank you, Wolf. Good evening.

BLITZER: Thanks.

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