A 30 year old Russian man suffering from a rare genetic muscle wasting disorder may have the chance to participate in what could be a life and body changing operation. Valery Spiridonov has volunteered himself to be part of an experimental “head transplant” by Italian surgeon Dr. Sergeio Canavero. If all goes well it would be a major breakthrough in science and medicine- but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Valery Spiridonov wants to get his head transplanted onto a new body.
Dr. Canavero claims to have created a method to transplant a healthy head onto the body of a brain dead patient with an otherwise healthy body. Spiridonov suffers from Werdnig-Hoffman disease, a fatal disorder where most sufferers only live into their 20’s.
Heh-heh: he said “head.” – The head in question.
So while his mind and brain are fine, he feels that this surgery might actually give him the chance at having a healthy, new body before he dies. He told the Daily Mail:
“Am I afraid? Yes, of course I am. But it is not just very scary, but also very interesting. But you have to understand that I don’t really have many choices’, he said. ‘If I don’t try this chance my fate will be very sad. With every year my state is getting worse.’
The mad scientist Dr. Canavero.
Dr. Canavero says that the surgery would slice the heads off of the patient and the donor body at the same time using extremely sharp instruments. Then he would reattach the spinal chord using a substance called polyethylene glycol.
You can watch Dr. Canavero’s recent TED Talk below, where he explains the fantastical surgery:
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Dr. Canavero’s TED Talk is reminiscent of another doctor discussing his aspirations in experimental human surgeries…
The Frankenstein like experiment has understandably been met with much skepticism, revulsion and horror by the international medical community when Canavero first proclaimed that he could perform a successful head transplant within the next two years. Other doctors question if Dr. Canavero has simplified the immense difficulty that it would take to reattach a spinal chord.
As long as I get to have ice cream after.
Dr Hunt Batjer, of the American Association for Neurological Surgeons, told reporters: ‘I would not wish this on anyone. I would not allow anyone to do it to me as there are a lot of things worse than death.’
No, but tell us how you really feel, bro.
Canvero himself estimates that the procedure would cost at least 10 million dollars and could only happen in one of the world’s most advanced medical facilities utilizing a surgery staff of 150 doctors and nurses and would take over 36 hours to complete. So you know this probably isn’t covered by Obamacare. Thanks Obama!
On the up side for Spiridonov, this isn’t the first time that a head transplant has been attempted. In 19 70 a monkey head was successfully transplanted and the animal was awake after the surgery, living for a short time after:
So just a heads up, we could soon have head transplants! The question is it OK to do so?
Follow Phil Haney on Twitter @PhilHaney
Source: Daily Mail