Science & Technology
Human head transplant to take place in China
May 4, 2017 | 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."
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