China officials 'delayed shipment' of author's frozen body

BEIJING - A US firm has blamed Chinese "government bureaucracy" for delays in shipping the frozen body of a science fiction editor out of the country in the hope that she might later be revived.

A small number of people around the globe are opting to have their brains or bodies frozen after death in a procedure known as cryonics, hoping to be revived once medical technology advances. The concept is unproven.

Chinese children's writer and science fiction editor Du Hong - who oversaw the publication of The Three-Body Problem, which last month won the prestigious international Hugo Award - died of cancer in May, reports and US company Alcor said.

Surgeons from the firm, which had been contracted to freeze her brain, flew to China to preserve her body, Alcor said on its website over the weekend.

They spent "a fair amount of time" discussing their equipment with Chinese Customs officials before being allowed into the country, it added.

"Two government officials observed the entire procedure, and then immediate cooldown with dry ice," it said.

The company was told that authorities would allow Du's body to be shipped out of China but ran into delays, it said.

"Chinese government bureaucracy delayed the approval process," it said, adding: "Dry ice was added every two days while the paperwork was sorted out." Eventually the body was flown to Los Angeles, where "neuroseparation" - the removal of Du's brain - was carried out in a nearby mortuary.

Arizona-based Alcor said Du was its 138th "patient".