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Science & Technology

Human head transplant to take place in China

By T.K. Randall
May 4, 2017 · Comment icon 22 comments

Is it really possible to transfer a head from one body to another ? Image Credit: PD - Mikael Haggstrom
It has been revealed that the controversial operation will no longer involve patient Valery Spiridonov.
It might sound like something taken straight from the pages of a Mary Shelley novel and that's because, for the most part, it is. The idea of removing someone's head and then attaching it to another body is perhaps the most audacious surgical procedure ever conceived.

According to Italian surgeon Dr Sergio Canavero however, undertaking a head transplant on a live human patient is not only possible, but demonstrably achievable before the end of this year.

Previously the insane procedure was set to be performed on Valery Spiridonov, a Russian man suffering from a genetic muscle-wasting condition called Werdnig-Hoffmann disease.

Now though, for reasons that remain unclear, the surgery will no longer involve Spiridonov at all and will instead be performed on a patient from China. The operation will be carried out by a special team led by Dr. Ren Xiaoping at the Second Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University.
The procedure, which has been dubbed HEAVEN ("head anastomosis venture"), will take upwards of 36 hours to complete with no guarantee of success. There is also the matter of reconnecting the spinal cord, a procedure which Dr Canavero refers to as "GEMINI".

"Scientists everywhere now have hard proof of the viability of the Gemini Heaven protocol and I am sure that Russian surgeons will be interested in joining their Chinese colleagues' effort[s]," he said.

If the procedure doesn't work however, the patient could end up dead or worse.

"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."

Source: CCTV | Comments (22)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #13 Posted by Yamato 7 years ago
This procedure would take forever if it's actually expected to produce acceptable results and I suppose acceptable for the first go-round would be that the patient doesn't die on the operating table. Meanwhile GEMINI contractors are working hard to supply headless corpses from Saudi vendors for people who deserve to keep their heads attached to bodies.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Aten 7 years ago
I dont think ethics should have anything to do with anything. Ethics just hold up progress, ethics are just religious bs.. we are the borg etc, I say just do it, nuts to any gods out there.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Parsec 7 years ago
No worries, if they are successful they'll be able to stich it back! 
Comment icon #16 Posted by Parsec 7 years ago
I'm curious what they really expect to achieve.  The head transplant per se is not so important to me, the GEMINI procedure is.  If they really manage to reattach the nervous system, that will be a game changer.  That would mean no more paralised people due to accidents. 
Comment icon #17 Posted by Aftermath 7 years ago
Yeah, I'm on the fence with this one.  I don't know if it's right or wrong - perhaps someone better informed can explain both sides - however I do hope they are successful.  I honestly don't think it will be though.  
Comment icon #18 Posted by coolguy 7 years ago
Thats cool, i hope they are successful, but when this guy wakes up whos memeorys dows he have ???
Comment icon #19 Posted by LV-426 7 years ago
Medical ethics go way beyond religion. If there were no lines drawn on acceptable practices, you'd have desperate people open to all sorts of aberrant exploitation at the hands of corporate money.  
Comment icon #20 Posted by FLOMBIE 7 years ago
Ethics are not religious. They are philosophical, and part of what makes us human. 
Comment icon #21 Posted by OverSword 7 years ago
Complete load of horse manure.  If they could reconnect spinal chords they would already be surgically repairing quadriplegic people.  I don't know what the point of this hype is but it's obviously not true.
Comment icon #22 Posted by Almighty Evan 7 years ago
I'm reminded of Heinlein's "I Will Fear No Evil", and of how many rich people are around. Just as the bell curve exists everywhere (kind of scary to realize that half of all doctors are below average, haha), there are a lot of rich whack jobs out there as well who might spare no expense at the chance of longevity. Since the Chinese are known to be "liberal" with their use of prisoner parts and pieces, this would seem to be the logical venue for a person of means to invest in such a venture. http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/23/asia/china-organ-harvesting/

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