Man From Russia Will Be Subject Of First Human Head Transplant Ever Performed
In the beginning of this year, an Italian surgeon said, that he will be attempting the world’s first human head transplant. He also thinks, that this will be a common practice in less than two years. It seems like things are moving fast and the first donor was already introduced. But it is everything, but not easy. Many experts think, that the donor will face things far more worse than death.
The idea started in 2013, when Sergio Canavero of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group had an idea – using a surgery to prolong the lives of a people with degenerated muscles and nerves or organs with cancer. He plans to reveal his project at the annual America Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons meeting in Maryland this year in June. For the operation, he will need roughly around 150 doctors and nurses.
But the question is – is it really possible?
How he can successfully fuse two spinal cords and prevent the recipient’s body from rejecting the new head? The attempts which were performed in the last century with dogs and monkeys resulted in animals suffering and not living longer than couple of days. But a recent mouse head transplant showed that this was basically possible.
How it works?
After the donor’s body and the recipient’s head are cooled the neck tissue is dissected, blood vessels are linked with tubes and the spinal cords are cleanly severed. After the head is on the body, the ends of spinal cords are fused together using a chemical that accelerate fat in cell membranes to connect and the muscles and blood vessels will be sutured. The patient will be in comatose as electrodes will stimulate the spinal cord. Sergio Canavero calls it HEAVEN, for head anastomosis (surgical connection of two parts) venture.
As always, there is someone who will undergo this kind of procedure. The volunteer has already stood up and his name is Valeri Spiridonov. He lives in Vladimir, Russia and he is only 30 years old. He suffers from a very rare genetic disorder named Werdnig-Hoffman muscle wasting disease.
“Am I afraid? Of course I am. But it is not just very scary, but also very insteresting. You have to understand that I don’t really have many choices. If I don’t try this chance, my fate will be very sad. With every year my state is getting worse,” said Valery.
What are the opinions of other scientists?
Hunt Batjer from American Association for Neurological Surgeons think, that even if major veins and arteries, the airway and spine are put together, the main problem will be spinal cord. He thinks, that there are worse things that can happen to patient than death. For start, the patient might not be able to breath or move. Arthur Caplan of New York University thinks that Canavero is nuts. He thinks that the problem will be with body being overwhelmed with different pathways and chemistry and the patient will go crazy. Also he said, that the high level of anti-rejection medication will poison the body and even if this operation will be successful, who knows if the recipient will gain full control over new parts.
But Canavero still insists that we can already to this. But can we?
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