After the first successful head transplant on a monkey, Dr. Sergio Canavero, a surgeon at a China facility, will perform the first human head transplant as early as next year, Unexplained Mysteries reports.
Valery Spiridonov, a 30-year-0ld Russian computer scientist, will undergo the first human head transplant. Spiridonov suffers from Werdnig-Hoffmann disease, which causes muscles to weaken and deteriorate. Some symptoms of Werdnig-Hoffmann disease are abnormal flexibility, tongue twitching and absent tendon reflexes. Those individuals with Werdnig-Hoffmann disease often have normal mental development.Without any guarantee of success, Dr. Sergio Canavero and 150 other doctors plan to remove Spiridonov's head and attach it to a donor's body. The human head transplant procedure is estimated to take a mere 36 hours. Dr. Canavero said this procedure will be known as HEAVEN ("Head Anastomosis Venture") and will involve severing the spinal cord and re-attaching it to the new body.
Many are not as optimistic as Canavero, including Dr. Hunt Batjer, who is with the American Association for Neurological Surgeons.
"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."Dr. Canavero tells Life News that although some think he is "crazy" for attempting a human head transplant, he feels confident that the surgery will be successful and thinks that Spiridonov will be walking within a year after the transplant.
According to ALPHR, the transplant involves cooling the head and body to 12 degrees Celsius to be certain that the cells last long enough without oxygen. Once the tissue is cut around the neck, little tubes will be attached to all major blood vessels, and the spinal cord will be neatly cut on both bodies.
Once the head is removed, Canavero will re-attach the head to the new body by fusing the spinal cords. Once the attachment is successful, Spiridonov will be kept in a coma for a month to limit movement.
Canavero believes that Spiridonov will be able to speak with his own voice, move and feel his face immediately after being awakened.
It was highly frowned upon that Dr. Canavero discussed his "successful" monkey head transplant before the story was published.
A bioethicist at New York University School of Medicine, Arthur Caplan, couldn't agree on that more.
"The fact that Canavero has gone public with the latest results before the papers are published has raised eyebrows. It's science through public relations. When it gets published in a peer-reviewed journal I'll be interested. I think the rest of it is BS."A neurologist at Harvard Medical School's Centre for Bioethics, Thomas Cochrane, thinks that Canavero's premature disclosure was a bit unusual.
"It's frowned upon for good reason. It generates excitement before excitement is warranted. It distracts people from actual work that everyone can agree has a valid foundation. As far as I can tell, that operation has mostly been about publicity rather than the production of good science."Back in 1970, Robert White performed the first monkey head transplant. Unfortunately, the monkey only lived for eight days and could not move because White would not attempt to fuse the spinal cord.
Xiao-Ping Ren and his colleagues in China performed head transplants on mice back in 2014, putting white heads on black bodies and vice versa. Most of the mice lived up to three hours after the transplant.
A more successful transplant was recently performed by Dr. Canavero himself. In January, Canavero successfully transplanted a mouse head.
Dr. Canavero is very optimistic that a human head transplant certainly is possible.
"It's important that people stop thinking this is impossible. This is absolutely possible and we're working towards it."Canavero outlines the whole process in great detail here, or see what Dr. Canavero has to say for himself.[Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]