Human Head Transplant: Russian Patient May Face ‘Fate Worse Than Death’

A Russian man has volunteered to undergo a dangerous experimental surgery in which his head will be severed and transplanted onto another body, an experience that experts warn could condemn him to a fate worse than death.

Valery Spiridonov suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Werdnig-Hoffman muscle wasting disease. According to IFLScience, this ailment has left the 30-year-old, who hails from Vladimir, Russia, confined to a wheelchair and approaching death. Though he fully admits that he is afraid of the procedure, Spiridonov has volunteered to undergo the world’s first human head transplant, a 36-hour-long operation that Italian doctor Sergio Canavero claims he can perform.

Canavero first proposed the idea of a head transplant in 2013, and though it has been met with widespread skepticism, he has detailed the procedure in Surgical Neurology International. As the Daily Mail points out, the transplant will require a team of 150 doctors and nurses, who will operate after the bodies are cooled and Spiridonov’s head is cleanly severed from his body. The patient will remain comatose as blood vessels and tissue are sutured together, and for a full four weeks after the transplant while the body heals. A chemical will be used to fuse the ends of the spinal cords, which will be the real hurdle to successfully completing the transplant.

While Spiridonov contends that he has little choice in the matter, citing certain death as his alternative to undergoing the surgery, Canavero is certainly not without his critics. As the Inquisitr has previously reported, a multitude of scientists have highlighted the risks involved in such a transplant, asserting that the procedure is far too dangerous to be attempted. Hunt Batjer of the American Association for Neurological Surgeons voiced his opposition to the transplant, saying he would not wish it upon anyone.

“I would not allow anyone to do it to me, there are a lot of things worse than death.”

Others have cited the possibility that Spiridonov could be paralyzed or unable to breathe after the procedure. In addition to the possibility of anti-rejection drugs overwhelming his system, some doctors assert that the head transplant would cause both bodies to “go crazy,” due to chemical differences.

Canavero points to recent experiments with mice, however, in which a head transplant was successfully accomplished.

“I think we are now at a point when the technical aspects are all feasible,” he asserted.

If all goes according to Canavero’s plans, the first human head transplant could be attempted as early as next year.

[Photo by Christopher Furlong/ Getty Images]