The first human head transplant has a willing doctor in Italian neurosurgeon Dr. Sergio Canavero and a willing volunteer in Valery Spiridonov. The doctor’s pitch for his head transplant project, however, raised more questions than answers, among those being how to maintain and restore blood flow to the brain as well as ethical questions.
On Friday afternoon, Dr. Sergio Canavero, of Italy’s Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, made his case for performing the head transplant during his presentation at the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopedic Surgeons conference. The conference was held in Annapolis, Maryland at the Westin Hotel.
Asking for financial backing from America’s billionaires and surgeons who would be willing to assist in the head transplant project, Dr. Canavero addressed the 150 conference attendees for two and a half hours, going an hour over the time scheduled for his presentation on the head transplant surgery.
Dr. Canavero called the head transplant surgery HEad Anatomosis VENture, or “Heaven” and said he will perform the surgery in either the U.S. or China. According to the doctor, his ultimate goal is extending the life of his patient. He gave an impassioned speech regarding the head transplant to appeal to the doctors as wanting to test skills and confidence.
“If Heaven is reckless, nature is crazier, and nature must be given pause when it comes to what it does to us all as creatures on this planet.”
“We must go to the moon to test who we are, to test our skills, to test our confidence, to see what kind of men we are! We must do it to test America! We must do it to see if you are still Americans! When I grew up America was the top.”
The head transplant volunteer is Russian-born Valery Spiridonov, 30, who suffers from Werdnig-Hoffman disease, or spinal muscular atrophy. The condition is debilitating with no cure and is fatal. Spiridonov emailed Dr. Canavero about the surgery.
“I believe my body is just mechanics that I want to have removed,” Spiridonov said.
Dr. Canavero asked Spiridonov, “Would you believe that your condition could drive you to insanity, to madness?”
Spiridonov replied, “Yes. Every day.”
Dr. Canavero didn’t seem to have answers regarding safely waking up the patient from a coma or re-establishing bloody supply quickly enough to the brain. The brain can only survive a few minutes without a blood supply.
The doctors were divided, questioning whether the human head transplant would be ethical. Dr. Marc Stevens, an orthopedic surgeon from Smithfield, North Carolina, said he believes more research should be done on healing spinal cord injuries rather than performing a head transplant.
Do you think a human head transplant surgery could be successfully performed by Dr. Canavero?
[Image via YouTube]