A 30-year-old man from Russia suffering from a terminal condition is set to be the first person in history to undergo a full head transplant.
The man, Valeri Spirindonov, is to have the surgery performed by the controversial Italian surgeon, Dr. Sergio Canavero, who claims he can cut off a man’s head and attach it to another man’s body.
Spiridonov is suffering from Werdnig-Hoffman disease, a muscle-wasting condition which is rooted in a rare genetic disorder and feels he has nothing to lose by attempting the risky procedure.
As he told reporters, “My muscles stopped any development in childhood. Because of this, they do not grow and the skeleton gets deformed. The back muscles cannot support the skeleton.”
Spiridonov added, “I can hardly control my body now. I need help every day, every minute. I am now 30 years old, although people rarely live to more than 20 with this disease.”
In hoping that his life could become better, Spiridonov contacted Dr. Canavero two years ago, after hearing about him and his reputation. “I offered myself to him to make this operation possible. We have never met and we just communicate via emails. For the past two years, we have been talking this idea through and planning the operation,” he said.
Of course, the man to undergo the world’s first full head transplant is more than a little nervous about the prospect, “Am I afraid? Yes of course I am,” he said. “But it is not just very scary, but also very interesting. You have to understand that I don’t really have many choices. If I don’t try this chance, my fate will be very sad. With every year my state is getting worse.”
De Canavero calls the procedure ‘HEAVEN’– an acronym for head anastomosis venture. As he said to reporters about the procedure, “I do understand the risks of such surgery. They are multiple. We can’t even imagine what exactly can go wrong. I’m afraid that I wouldn’t live long enough to see it happen to someone else.”
He added that, “At some point of time this was considered to be unethical as well. There was much talk about where the human soul is located, and if it’s ethical to do the heart transplants, but now doctors do it and save people’s lives.”
[Image credit: Metro.co.uk]