Vietnam Hospital Is Seeking Head Transplant Volunteers

The Vietnam-Germany Hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam, is actively seeking head transplant volunteers. Should Italian neurosurgeon Dr. Sergio Canavero be successful in his attempt to transplant a head, the director of the hospital hopes to introduce the surgery to that country.

There has been a lot of talk in the media about Dr. Canavero and his ambitious plans to perform the world’s first human head transplant. Dr. Canavero announced his plans back in 2015, saying he hopes to perform the ground-breaking procedure on a 30-year-old Russian man, Valery Spiridonov, in 2017. Donations have reportedly been pouring in to fund the operation.

Spiridonov suffers from a degenerative muscle condition known as Werdnig-Hoffman and has volunteered to be the first person to undergo a head transplant.

According to TuoiTreNews, Dr. Trinh Hong Son, the director of Vietnam-Germany Hospital announced at a seminar Tuesday morning that should Dr. Canavero be successful in transplanting the head of one person onto the body of another, he hopes to bring the same surgical team to Vietnam, where there is reportedly a “demand for it.”

Reportedly, the hospital is Vietnam’s largest surgical center and is seeking volunteers whose bodies are paralyzed but who have active brains. According to Dr. Son, a volunteer would then have their head transplanted onto the body of someone who has suffered brain death.

TuoiTreNews quoted Dr. Son as saying, “We are closely watching the coming surgery and are ready to prepare a plan to bring that technique to Vietnam.”

Dr. Son stressed that Vietnam does not currently have the expertise and is not ready to perform the head transplant surgery alone, but they are ready to look for individuals who will donate and receive the head. They would then invite the hopefully successful head transplant team to Vietnam to perform the surgery.

“If the world’s first-ever human head transplant is a success, we will be willing to invite the doctor team behind that surgery to do it in Vietnam, especially when there is a demand for it.”

According to Dr. Son, the biggest obstacle in the operation is to maintain the oxygen exchange in the brain during the head transplant process. He added that while foreign scientists have had breakthroughs with surgery on mice, it can only be attempted on humans once the technique has been perfected.

As reported by the Inquisitr some months ago, Dr. Canavero has said he will perform the operation on Spiridonov in 2017 with the help of a Chinese surgeon. Dr. Canavero’s controversial surgery would reportedly include approximately 150 doctors and nurses.

According to Dr. Canavero, the operation would take around two days to perform, with the patient’s head initially cooled down and then removed. During the surgical procedure, the head would then be attached to the donor body, where the spinal cords would be fused together.

Reportedly, the next step would be for doctors to attach the muscles and the blood supply. Following this step, the patient would reportedly be kept in a medically-induced coma for around one month to prevent any movement.

According to Dr. Canavero, after the patient is taken out of the coma and awakes, he believes they will be able to move, to feel their face, and speak with their own voice. Dr. Canavero theorizes that the patient could possibly be able to walk within a year of the head transplant operation.

Despite Dr. Canavero’s assurances, critics have called the head transplant surgery unrealistic and have cited many reasons why the surgery will not work.

As reported by the International Business Times, Hunt Batjer, president-elect of the American Association for Neurological Surgeons brought up major ethical concerns with the head transplant proposal.

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

The video below is of a TEDx Limassol talk about head transplants by Dr. Canavero back in 2014.

[Image via YouTube]