World’s First Full Human Head Transplant Becomes a Reality

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News has come in that surgical transplant of the entire human head could become a reality. A Russian computer scientist suffering from a rare muscle wasting disease caused genetically in a person is about to become the first person ever to get his head surgically transplanted onto a donor’s body. The man has been identified as Valery Spiridonov, who hails from the city of Vladimir.

Spiridonov has reportedly volunteered for getting the radical procedure preformed that will allow his head to be surgically re-attached onto the body of a healthy donor. He spoke to media about his decision to go forward with the surgery. He assured that his decision was final and he has got no plans to change his mind once the procedure begins. He said that he will not panic and will try to remain as calm as possible. Spiridonov is presently suffering from a rare genetic muscle wasting disease called Werdnig-Hoffman disease.

The Russian scientist did accept that he was afraid of the procedure but said that he does not have too many options at the moment. He said that if he did not take the chance of getting a successful transplant surgery done, he will suffer and will have to endure immense amount of pain for the rest of his life. He also shared that his condition has been worsening over the years due to the rare genetic disease. Spiridonov is 30-years-old and has consulted an Italian surgeon named Sergio Canavero who had recently claimed to have developed a technique that would make the first full human head transplant in the world to become a reality within two years.

transplantIt was also reported that though Spiridonov had actually consulted Canavero, the doctor is yet to review his medical records. Canavero said that he had received many emails and correspondence from people who would like to undergo the full head transplant procedure. This includes emails from people from the LGBTQ community who want a new body as they experience difficulty identifying the body they were born with.

However, the doctor clarifies that the patients suffering from a muscle wasting disease would be the first candidates to undergo the procedure. Canavero said that he would require approval from a major medical center to host this herculean surgical effort of transplanting the human head on a donor’s body. He said that he was hoping to get the nod from a medical center in the U.S. as he is about to share his breakthrough at the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopedic Surgeons (AANOS) annual conference in June this year.

He also said that in case he fails to get approval in the U.S., his timeline would get extended by at least one year and he would then consider looking for support from medical centers in China. Canavero revealed that he has selected some doctors and nurses for his staff of 150 surgeons that would together carry out the entire transplant operation that lasts 36 hours. Work on the human head transplant procedure has been ongoing for some time now and it was reported that scientists in China had tried to carry out surgical head transplant on a mouse.

In 1970, a group of surgeons at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, led by Robert White, had surgically transplanted the head of a monkey onto the body of another monkey. The doctors did not join the spinal cords and because of that the monkey remained paralyzed. However, he was able to breathe with some assistance and died after nine days. Canavero claims that the advancement in the fields of science, medicine, and technology since then have solved the problems faced by White and his team and the first transplant of the entire human head in the world can become a reality in the 21st century.

By Ankur Sinha

Science Alert
IFL Science

Photos by:
Tareq Salahuddin-Flickr License
North Dakota National Guard-Flickr License

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