The instability of Larry Johnson's history.
Those people who have read Larry Johnson's book FROZEN may be tempted to take it as history, especially since some of it is accompanied by written records, photographs, and some surreptitious recordings done during the last part of his tenure with Alcor, starting in May of 2003. However, my own mention in the book comes starting in Chapter 6, which occurs in February. That is the chapter in which Johnson tells the story of the trip he took to southern California to meet Saul Kent and see the Critical Care Lab, where I work.
Johnson had formally started work at Alcor in Scottsdale, AZ, on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2003. The next Sunday (Feb 2) was the February Alcor board meeting. Soon after, Charles Platt proposed that he and Johnson take a trip to Southern California to meet Saul Kent and also the Southern California Alcor team of standby volunteers. He would also get some needed surgical training for cryonics, by being allowed to dissect the femoral vessels of an anesthetized dog, just before the animal was euthanized as part of another experimental program. We needed to see this dogs lungs, and it would thus serve two purposes. Todd Huffman, from the Southern California team, would get the same training.
Alcor's newsletter of Feb.6, referenced here:
announced both Johnson's hiring, and that he planned to come to Southern California for surgical training. The newsletter states:
"Later this month, I [Charles Platt] will visit Southern California with Larry Johnson. Larry will participate in surgical training at Critical Care Research, and two days later he will meet the Southern California standby team, our most active and highly trained regional group of volunteers."
Here is the relevant email from Johnson, also dated Feb 6:
Date: Thu, 6 Feb 2003 07:05:48 -0700
From: Larry Johnson
To: 'Charles Platt'
Subject: RE: Feb 21 / 22 / 23
That sounds like a good plan. I do not mind driving straight through to
Rancho Cucamonga. The formal outing you spoke of on Saturday sounds
fine to me. I'll see you this morning.
From: Charles Platt [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, February 05, 2003 6:58 PM
To: Larry Johnson
Cc: Charles Platt
Subject: Feb 21 / 22 / 23
Larry, I spoke to my friends at Critical Care Research tonight. They are
expecting us to arrive in Rancho Cucamonga (near Los Angeles) at noon on
Friday February 21st. We can do this if we set out in your truck around
7am, so long as you don't mind driving straight through. They have
confirmed that you will have an opportunity to do some surgery,
including cannulating a femoral artery and femoral vein.
Note that Johnson appends Platt's email of the day before, promising him the chance to do surgery. So Johnson is aware of the plan to do cannulation of a femoral artery and vein. The subject line is the date of the planned trip, Feb 21/22/23.
The next Alcor electronic newsletter is Wednesday, Feb 19:
The Johnson trip to Rancho Cucamonga has yet to take place, but it is again mentioned:
"Two weeks from now, Larry will be teaching techniques for patient airway access to our students in the Alcor training sessions which commence on March 1st.
This coming Friday Larry will get some surgical practice at a laboratory in California, and he will have a chance to meet all of our Southern California team members."
The coming Friday is Feb. 21. On that day Johnson and Platt make the drive early in the morning, arriving at the Critical Care lab as planned. Todd Huffman arrives separately. After signing Non Disclosure Agreements (which we have, and which are dated that day), both of them are given the chance to practice surgical techniques on a deeply anesthetized dog just before its heart is stopped. Huffman does somewhat better than Johnson (according to our notes, dated that day), but I'm satisfied with both of them. After removing, photographing (dated that day), and preserving the animals' lungs, we take Johnson out to supper at a local microbrew restaurant. If Johnson has any problems with the schedule, he doesn't say anything.
And that is the last I see Johnson at CCR until the cryonic suspension washout which occurs at the lab on March 1-2, just a over a week later, and which is described here:
This is the case of A-1025. It occurs in the small hours of the morning of March 2, and we see Johnson only for that time. Then, he and other personnel leave with the patient, headed to Alcor. I never see Johnson again.
Thus, imagine my surprise to read about all of this, but in a mutated fashion, in Johnson's book FROZEN. Starting in Chapter 6, I see that somehow Critical Care Research (CCR) is the same as 21st Century Medicine, and that both are Alcor's facility (they aren't). Johnson says his visit to CCR is a day he'll never forget, as it's the same day as his first Alcor board meeting, Feb. 10 (!). This is odd, since both things on this day he'll never forget, didn't happen that day. Or even that week.
But it gets stranger, and with less excuse. In the book (p. 92), Johnson arrives in complete ignorance that animal experimentation is done at CCR. "I didn't know that," says Johnson. How soon we forget.
And now, my dialogue: ' "Actually, Larry, we have an animal experiment scheduled for today," Steve said, "The dog is already on the table. Would you like to observe?" '
This sounds creepy, even to me-- and I'm the one speaking. I don't talk that way, for one thing. Johnson is not recording, either (he's only been hired 3 weeks before), and he obviously is not remembering too well, since the fact is, that the reason Johnson has come to the facility, is to do surgery on this very animal. "I was really hoping dogs didn't get hurt at CCR," he writes. "Maybe they were just testing thermometers on them or something."
Or something. Or perhaps they were having paramedics slice them a bit.
What follows is not recognizable. In the book, Johnson hangs back and watches in horror as the dog is perfused with Alcor chemicals just to see how long it will live. (Actually it is perfused with Ringers solution after Huffman and Johnson cannulate it, and while they both practice bagging it with oxygen, then finally with formaldehyde for tissue electron microscopy, and lives about 15 more seconds after that). At least, in the book, there is no suggestion of the dog suffering. Still, Larry cannot figure out why any of this is happening. He writes that he asks, but I do not give him any good reason why we're doing all this. It's a mystery! Supposedly, no one takes notes (Johnson misses scribe Joan O'Farrell, who records his every surgical faux pas). The lungs are removed, but Johnson misses this photography, somehow. His final verdict:
"...the experiment I had just witnessed [sic] on that poor dog gave me the first clue that some of [the Alcorians] were completely remorseless and without conscience."
By the time Johnson has begun to promote FROZEN in October of 2009, the dog at CCR is a dog from an animal shelter and has started to actually suffer. And Johnson has started to suffer with it, enough to write a letter to PETA. Although intubated in order to breathe on an anesthesia machine, the dog has started to cry and whimper (no speculation on how this is physiologically possible). And the dog has started to move.
Finally, all this gets so bad that Johnson is asked the obvious by Wolf Blitzer, in an Oct. 9 "Situation Room" interview on CNN television. Here is how Johnson fields the surprise question:
WOLF BLITZER: You report that you eye-witnessed abuse of animals that
were taken from shelters, adopted, and then they were mistreated for experimental use.
What, if anything, did you do to try to stop that?
JOHNSON: This is what happened, Wolf. I eye-witnessed -- they had a small
German Shepherd mix, a female dog. They sedated the dog. They put the dog on
a table. They started to infuse a solution that they were experimenting
with, flushing the dog's blood out.
Now the dog was sedated but you could still hear the dog crying and
whimpering. Finally they did that to the point where the dog finally died,
thank God, and -- and they opened up the chest of this animal, pulled out
the lungs, looked at it, threw him down and walked away.
No documentation, no legitimate research. I was shocked. I was...
BLITZER: So what did you try to do to stop it?
JOHNSON: I stood there. I had been a paramedic at that point in time for 25
years. I have seen a lot of horrific scenes. I was totally shocked. It set
me back. And again...
BLITZER: Did you do anything to try to stop it?
JOHNSON: I couldn't do anything. I was too scared to say a word because I
was just afraid that I was going to be viewed as an outsider, as a
troublemaker. I had grave concerns because of what I heard about these
deaths. There was no way I was going to say one word.
COLLINS: So you didn't call the authority, law enforcement after that
JOHNSON: No, I -- like I said, I was scared to death. I could not think
straight. I -- I didn't want to have them draw a line straight to me and
start doing experiments on me. Who knows? God knows.
So, folks, that's the final answer. Johnson has been at Alcor 23 days. He had heard about these mysterious Alcor deaths. Or he eventually would (time seems to warp a bit here). But he did not try to stop the dog torture because... knowing what he'd hear in the future, he was afraid that we would try to experiment on HIM.
Which would explain why he was so quiet, as he drank beer with all of us, a few hours later in the afternoon. He had a premonition that I might want to rip HIS lungs out.
And if not that particular afternoon, then perhaps in six years or so.