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A 3D-printed death chamber will take you out of this cold, dark world – A N I T H
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A 3D-printed death chamber will take you out of this cold, dark world

A 3D-printed death chamber will take you out of this cold, dark world


A rendering of the Sarco, a pod that enables assisted suicide.

Image: exit international

Physician-assisted suicide is a controversial topic, but that hasn’t stopped the ceaseless march of technology from innovating the practice, which remains illegal in most of parts of the world. 

Case in point: The Sarco machine, a 3D-printed pod that aims to give terminally ill and depressed patients a painless way to end their lives under the watchful eyes of a doctor. The tech is the brainchild of Dr. Philip Nitschke, an Australian physician based in the Netherlands and staunch proponent of “end of life choices” who founded advocacy group Exit International.

The machine appears to be a closed-off pod with a futuristic design that wouldn’t look out of place in the Halo video game universe, at least from the renderings made available by the organization. The machine’s 3D printing process could allow it to be built anywhere in the world with the necessary equipment, which presumably could make it easier to bring the device into territories that might not be receptive to its import. 

Potential patients would complete an online test to prove they are of sound mind and understand the implications of their decision to end their life, enter the chamber, then initiate a process that fills it up with liquid nitrogen, according to Newsweek. The oxygen in the tank would then dwindle to levels below five percent, painlessly rendering the patient unconscious in under a minute and ending their life within the next few minutes. Notably, Nitschke told Tonic there’s no interaction with a human doctor, which makes the controversial practice even more fraught.   

Exit International claims the Sarco is scheduled to become “widely available next year,” according to Newsweek, and said the machine could potentially be licensed to clinics in Switzerland.  

Nitschke has been performing “aid-in-dying” procedures since 1996 when he was the first physician in the world to administer the treatment legally. The practice is illegal at the federal level in the US — but a few states, like California, Oregon, Vermont, Colorado and Washington, have legislation on the books that allow it.    

We reached out to the organization for comment about Sarco, since there doesn’t appear to be real proof of the concept beyond the 3D renderings and claims made by Nitschke in interviews, where he has styled himself as the “Elon Musk of assisted suicide,” stirring up attention. We haven’t been able to confirm if the Sarco has actually tested IRL, but we’ll update the story with any new information. 

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Anith Gopal
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