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. 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. 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. 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.
With no history of heart disease, Leaf suffered a fatal heart attack in 1991. Leaf was cryopreserved by Alcor. Today, Alcor is the only full-service cryonics organization that performs remote standbys, using Leaf and Darwin's methods.
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