A few months ago, we brought you news of Dr. Sergio Canavero, director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group in Italy, and his hypothesized method of transplanting a human head onto another body.
Dr. Canavero is taking that hypothesis one step closer to reality as a Russian computer scientist, Valeri Spiridonov, has volunteered to undergo the world’s first full head transplant. Speaking in Moscow this past week, the 30-year-old who suffers from Werdnig-Hoffman disorder, a rare genetic muscle-wasting disorder, is hoping this experimental surgery will help thousands of people in the future.
“This technology is similar to the first man to walk in space. This is because in the future it will help thousands of people who are in an even more deplorable state than I am.”
“We’re experimenting, which lead to a relatively successful transplantation of the body, but then it was not possible to transmit nerve activity in organs and limbs. In that operation it did not have a meaning. Canavero overcame this problem. He has technology that allows the merging of neurons. And it works. We hope that this technology will lead to success.”
The healthy body will come from a brain-dead donor, and the operation – dubbed “HEAVEN” which is an acronym for head anastomosis venture – is expected to take up to 36 hours and cost $11 million. Spiridonov’s head will be detached from his current body using an ultra-sharp scalpel which will cut through his spinal cord then his head will be attached to the new body using a special biological glue. He will then be put into a coma for 3 to 4 weeks to prevent movement while being given immunosuppressants to lessen the chance of the body and head rejecting each other.
Many physicians are against the operation, but science and medicine is all about advancing, and Seemingly impossible surgeries such as cornea transplants, heart transplants, limb transplants and even full face transplants have been successful over the years.
Check out Dr. Canavero’s TedX talk below on the subject.
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