Jerry Leaf

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Jerry Donnell Leaf (April 4, 1941 – July 10, 1991) was Vice President and Director of the cryonics organization Alcor Life Extension Foundation, and President of the cryonics service firm Cryovita, Inc.[1] [2] until his cryopreservation by Alcor following a fatal heart attack in 1991.[3]

Leaf joined the United States Army and fought in special operations during the Vietnam War. Upon return, he received a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Cerritos College. He also worked as a cardiothoracic surgery researcher at the UCLA School of Medicine,[4] co-authoring more than 20 papers from the laboratory of Dr. Gerald Buckberg.[3]

During the late 1970s and 1980s, Leaf transformed the field of cryonics[3] by bringing unprecedented medical expertise to the field[5] [6] [7] and introducing technologies and procedures of thoracic surgery, especially heart-lung bypass, for improved blood vessel access and life support of cryonics patients. Leaf was involved in the first experiments done by a cryonics organization.[5] He is most famous for developing with Mike Darwin a blood substitute shown capable of sustaining life in dogs for four hours at near-freezing temperatures.[8] Leaf was the head of Alcor's suspension team and participated in many suspensions of Alcor patients.[3]

Cryovita Laboratories[edit]

In 1978, after teaching surgery as a research associate at UCLA, Leaf founded Cryovita Laboratories. Cryovita was a for-profit organization which provided cryopreservation services and the building for Alcor in the 1980s, including storage of the first cryonics patient, James Bedford, from 1982.[9] During this time, Leaf also collaborated with Michael Darwin in a series of hypothermia experiments in which dogs were resuscitated with no measurable neurological deficit after hours in deep hypothermia, just a few degrees above zero Celsius. The blood substitute which was developed for these experiments became the basis for the washout solution used at Alcor. Together, Leaf and Darwin developed a standby-transport model for human cryonics cases with the goal of intervening immediately after cardiac arrest and minimizing ischemic injury, the "gold standard" of technology at that time, in which a patient's kidney was considered to be in transplantable condition two days after her death.[10] Leaf and Darwin transferred Bedford, the first person cryopreserved, to a more technologically advanced dewar at Alcor in 1991 and were able to examine him at that time.[11] A member of the Society for Cryobiology, Leaf objected to a 1980s change by the Society to amend its bylaws to prevent cryonicists from holding membership in the Society.[12]

With no history of heart disease, Leaf suffered a fatal heart attack in 1991.[10] Leaf was cryopreserved by Alcor.


  1. ^ "Burning Passion Drives Devotees of Cryonics Idea". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. 1988. Retrieved 2015-06-08.
  2. ^ "Local News in Brief : Twist in Frozen Head Case". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. 1988. Retrieved 2015-06-08.
  3. ^ a b c d "Jerry Leaf tributes". Cryonics. Alcor Life Extension Foundation. 1991. Retrieved 2009-08-23.
  4. ^ "Putting fate on ice". Chicago Tribune. Chicago Tribune. 1988. Retrieved 2015-06-08.
  5. ^ a b Bridge, Steve (1992). "Fifteen Years in Cryonics". Alcor Indiana newsletter. Alcor Indiana. Retrieved 2009-08-24.
  6. ^ Kent, Saul (1980). The Life Extension Revolution. New York: Morrow. p. 308. ISBN 978-0688035808. Retrieved 2015-06-10.
  7. ^ Immortality Institute, ed. (2004). The Scientific Conquest of Death. Buenos Aires: Libros en Red. p. 141. ISBN 978-9875611351. Retrieved 2015-06-10.
  8. ^ ""Suspended Animation" proof-of-concept: Alcor's Pioneering Total Body Washout Experiments". 'Cryonics' magazine. Alcor Life Extension Foundation. 1984–1985. Retrieved 2008-02-26.
  9. ^ "Dear Dr. Bedford (and those who will care for you after I do)". Cryonics. July 1991. Retrieved 2009-08-23.
  10. ^ a b Darwin, Mike (1991). "Jerry Leaf Enters Cryonic Suspension". Cryonics. Alcor Life Extension Foundation. Retrieved 2009-08-24.
  11. ^ "Evaluation of the Condition of Dr. James H. Bedford After 24 Years of Cryonic Suspension". Alcor Life Extension Foundation. August 1991. Retrieved 2009-08-23.
  12. ^ Darwin, Mike (1991). "Cold War: The Conflict Between Cryonicists and Cryobiologists". Cryonics. Alcor Life Extension Foundation. Retrieved 2009-08-24.

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