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World’s first head transplant volunteer could experience something "worse than death”

Anonymous
Posted by Anonymous
  • 49 Replies
World’s first head transplant volunteer could experience something "worse than death”

"I would not wish this on anyone," says top surgeon.

BEC CREW
10 APR 2015
 

This week, 30-year-old Russian man, Valery Spiridonov, announced that he will become the subject of the first human head transplant ever performed, saying he volunteers to have his head removed and installed on another person’s body.

If this sounds like some kind of sick joke, we’re right there with you, but unfortunately, this is all too real. Earlier this year, Italian surgeon Sergio Canavero outlined the transplant technique he intends to follow in the journal Surgical Neurology International, and said he planned to launch the project at the annual conference of the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons (AANOS) in the US in June, where he will invite other researchers to join him in his head transplant dream.

At the time, it sounded completely outlandish - and it still is - but the difference now is that Canavero actually has a living, breathing volunteer willing to be the guinea pig for what Christopher Hootan at The Independent says is predicted to be a 36-hour operation requiring the assistance of 150 doctors and nurses. You can read about the procedure here.

Hootan brings home what’s really at stake for Spiridonov - it’s not just death he has to worry about:

"A Werdnig-Hoffman disease sufferer with rapidly declining health, Spiridonov is willing to take a punt on this very experimental surgery and you can't really blame him, but while he is prepared for the possibility that the body will reject his head and he will die, his fate could be considerably worse than death,” says Hootan. 

"I would not wish this on anyone," said Dr Hunt Batjer, president elect of the American Association for Neurological Surgeons. "I would not allow anyone to do it to me as there are a lot of things worse than death."

From speaking to several medical experts, Hootan has pin-pointed a problem that even the most perfectly performed head transplant procedure cannot mitigate - we have literally no idea what this will do to Spiridonov’s mind. There’s no telling what the transplant - and all the new connections and foreign chemicals that his head and brain will have to suddenly deal with - will do to Spiridonov’s psyche, but as Hootan puts it rather chillingly, it "could result in a hitherto never experienced level and quality of insanity". 

This is actually happening, and we're terrified. Also, I’ve suddenly got a great idea for a movie, and judging from the creepy performance below, Canavero could pretty much be cast as himself:

Posted by Anonymous on Apr. 10, 2015 at 2:02 PM
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Replies (1-10):
Rhodin
by Ruby Member on Apr. 10, 2015 at 2:05 PM
4 moms liked this
Wouldn't he be paralyzed?
Momwifewine
by on Apr. 10, 2015 at 2:06 PM
Um wow, that's not something I would do.
mommytoeandb
by Ruby Member on Apr. 10, 2015 at 2:09 PM

Dang!  Reminds me of the guy who volunteered to be eaten by a cannibal.  WTH?

rosie211
by I'm a nice one on Apr. 10, 2015 at 2:09 PM
Idk what to say about this.
sarbear8508
by Platinum Member on Apr. 10, 2015 at 2:09 PM
That's insane.
Anonymous
by Anonymous 2 on Apr. 10, 2015 at 2:10 PM
I wish I was a little smarter about medical stuff. This doesn't sound possible. Won't he be paralyzed? I just don't get it
chalisa0
by Ruby Member on Apr. 10, 2015 at 2:11 PM
1 mom liked this

 This has got to be an April Fool's joke.  There is no way it could work.  Also, wouldn't it be a full body transplant, not a head transplant.  The brain makes the person, not the body.

caustinb
by Ruby Member on Apr. 10, 2015 at 2:12 PM
Um wow.
Anonymous
by Anonymous 3 on Apr. 10, 2015 at 2:12 PM
Um...well, I'm not sure what to say about that.
Anonymous
by Anonymous 1 - Original Poster on Apr. 10, 2015 at 2:13 PM

follow the links...

Human head transplants could be a reality in just two years

Get ready, this might actually be happening.

BEC CREW
26 FEB 2015
 

A controversial new project to perform the world’s first human head transplant by 2017 will be launched later this year, amid a storm of ethical issues and questions over the actual science involved.

First proposed two years ago by neuroscientist Sergio Canavero from the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group in Italy, the idea came about in considering how to improve things for people who have experienced severe muscle and nerve damage because of cancer. The biggest challenges involved, such as connecting the severed spinal cord of the transplanted head to the recipient’s spinal cord, and figuring out how to introduce such a huge part without the body rejecting it, will be sorted over the next two years, Canavero predicts.

This month, he outlined the transplant technique he intends to follow in the journalSurgical Neurology International, and will announce his plan to get the project rolling at the annual conference of the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons (AANOS) in US in June, inviting other researchers to join him.

It's been almost five decades since the first ‘successful’ head transplant. And this experiment sure was a grisly one. In 1970, the head of one monkey was placed onto the body of another at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in the US. While scientists weren’t able to fuse the spinal cords, which means the monkey recipient couldn’t move its new head, it was able to achieve assisted breathing, but it died in a mere nine days following the procedure. 

But Canavero thinks we’ve got the technology and expertise to do a whole lot better than that now. He described the process to Helen Thomson at New Scientist, and it’s equal parts nuts and kinda genius. It starts with cooling both the body and head right down so the cells won’t die when deprived of oxgyen through the process. Next, the neck is severed and all the crucial blood vessels are hooked up to tubes while the spinal cord on both the head and the body are severed.

"The recipient's head is then moved onto the donor body and the two ends of the spinal cord – which resemble two densely packed bundles of spaghetti – are fused together,” says Thomson. "To achieve this, Canavero intends to flush the area with a chemical called polyethylene glycol, and follow up with several hours of injections of the same stuff. Just like hot water makes dry spaghetti stick together, polyethylene glycol encourages the fat in cell membranes to mesh.”

Canavero told Thomson the final step would be to stitch up the muscles and blood supply, and to induce a thre- or four-hour coma to let the body heal itself while embedded electrodes stimulate the spinal cord to strengthen the new nerve connections. 

The recipient won’t be able to get up and walk around soon after the surgery, he says, telling New Scientist that the damage to the spinal cord would take about 12 months to heal fully. The recipient would retain their old voice, he adds. 

Sounds simple, but is that really all there is to it? Not even a little bit, because we don’t even know if the plan to use polyethylene glycol to fuse the spinal cords is even going to work, in which case Canavero will be forced to use one of his other options. "There is no evidence that the connectivity of cord and brain would lead to useful sentient or motor function following head transplantation," Richard Borgens, director of the Centre for Paralysis Research at Purdue University in the US, told Thomson. 

And then there's the whole 'how do you get the body to stop automatically rejecting the head?' issue. I'll let Helen Thomson explain that one over at New Scientist,because it's a doozy. Suffice it to say, this could be something that humans will have to prepare themselves for, if not in two years' time, perhaps within the next decade or five. We just have to figure out how to not end up like this in the process

Quoting chalisa0:

 This has got to be an April Fool's joke.  There is no way it could work.  Also, wouldn't it be a full body transplant, not a head transplant.  The brain makes the person, not the body.


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