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Science & Technology

Terminally ill man to undergo head transplant

April 8, 2015 | Comment icon 83 comments

The operation will be the first of its kind performed on a human. Image Credit: US Navy
Computer scientist Valery Spiridonov is set to become the first man in history to undergo the procedure.
The 30-year-old suffers from Werdnig-Hoffman disease, a genetic muscle wasting disorder that has left him confined to a wheelchair.

The surgery will be carried out by controversial surgeon Dr Sergio Canavero who recently claimed that transplanting a head is not only possible but that it could be done within two years.

While Spiridonov is unlikely to survive in the long term he insists that he would like to experience having a new body before he dies.

"My decision is final and I do not plan to change my mind," he said. "Am I afraid? Yes, of course I am. But it is not just very scary, but also very interesting."
The body that will be used for the procedure is likely to be that of a brain-dead donor patient.

The announcement has been met with a substantial degree of criticism from top medical professionals who have branded the whole idea "nuts".

"'I would not wish this on anyone," said Dr Hunt Batjer of the American Association for Neurological Surgeons. "I would not allow anyone to do it to me as there are a lot of things worse than death."

The 36-hour operation is expected to cost somewhere in the region of $12 million.

Whether the operation will actually go ahead and what sort of existence Spiridonov can expect to experience in the event that he does survive the procedure however is anyone's guess.

Source: Mail Online | Comments (83)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #74 Posted by regeneratia 7 years ago
If it were so easy to reconnect damaged spinal cords then we wouldn't have so many folk in wheelchairs or hospital beds. Lets imagine you cut a cable in half and inside are 5 smaller wires, all color coded. Now you could easily splice the cables together based on their colors right? But lets say inside a spinal chord there are a hundred finer wires, with no color coding... so erm...how do you splice the two? Stick 'em together and hope for the best? heres a cross section of spinal cord There is all sorts of research on this issue. I have been watching it happen over the last two decades. kind ... [More]
Comment icon #75 Posted by qxcontinuum 7 years ago
12 millions, really... how so?
Comment icon #76 Posted by CRYSiiSx2 7 years ago
. Reminds me of the movie Mars Attacks lol.
Comment icon #77 Posted by Archangel Oger 7 years ago
This actually COULD work...now, that is...and no, back when this was attempted on small primates 40-50 years ago they didn't have the tools or knowledge to perform an actual full head/body transplant... ...If they keep him (his head) and the donor body in a medically induced coma prior to AND after the surgery LONG enough that is, while using 'stem cells' to assist with the recovery...it's certainly possible... ...The overall health and age of the donor body is going to certainly make a difference. I assume they would thoroughly check the body, well before hand.
Comment icon #78 Posted by TripGun 7 years ago
Say he lives, but he has suffered tremendous brain damage and his quality of life is horrendous.
Comment icon #79 Posted by seeder 7 years ago
Say he lives, but he has suffered tremendous brain damage and his quality of life is horrendous. True. A bit like having immortality then getting a life means life jail sentence
Comment icon #80 Posted by Kenemet 7 years ago
Physicians are skeptical, and so am I. Wikipedia has an interesting (if creepy) article on head transplants: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head_transplant I can see a lot of ethical issues. I would be more comfortable with a bionic body.
Comment icon #81 Posted by Red Moon 7 years ago
How many heads will they chop off because of this weird donation? What if he finds his new head extremely ugly?
Comment icon #82 Posted by TripGun 7 years ago
How many heads will they chop off because of this weird donation? What if he finds his new head extremely ugly? Well, that's a good question.
Comment icon #83 Posted by Skeptic Chicken 7 years ago
So, there's a rumor circulating that this is a Viral Marketing campaign for Metal Gear Solid V; The Phantom Pain. Thread with recap of the details: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1031440 However, Dr. Canavero was asked if there was a connection or if it was a coincidence. He replied saying there was no link and that he'd "contact his attorneys." He could be covering, though.

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