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In UK legal first, terminally-ill teenager's body preserved after death

The body of a 14-year-old cancer patient has been sent from the UK to the US to be cryogenically frozen. The girl won the landmark case shortly before her death.

Following a landmark High Court ruling, the body of a 14-year-old British girl who died last month from a rare form of cancer will be cryogenically preserved. The details of the case were released on Friday.

The teenager expressed her wishes to have her body preserved through freezing in a letter to a judge. 

"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," the girl wrote.

Judge Peter Jackson, who ruled in the girl's favor, called the case "an example of the new questions that science poses to the law."

Cryonics - the science of preserving biological tissue through deep-freezing - has many critics in the medical community. However the specific case of the 14-year-old focused more on the dispute between the two divorced parents. The girl's mother hoped to follow through with her daughter's request, while the father raised concerns about the effectiveness and the cost of the process.

The price of the treatment the girl chose was reportedly the least expensive at about £37,000 (43,000 euros or $46,083).

Coming back to life

Scientists have yet to bring a deep-frozen organism back to life. So far, the most complex biological tissue successfully revived after cryogenic freezing was a rabbit's brain early this year.

Proponents of cryogenics say that frozen bodies could be revived in the future once technology advances, but critics argue that today's procedures are likely to destroy tissue beyond repair.

According to Jackson, the girl's father told him: "Even if the treatment is successful and she is brought back to life in, let's say, 200 years, she may not find any relative and she might not remember things."

By the end of the court case, the father changed his stance, however, and agreed to respect his daughter's wishes.

ae, ksb/jm (AFP, AP)

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