An Italian surgeon is set to become the first in the world to transplant a human head on to a donor body.
Russian computer scientist Valeri Spiridonov is set to undergo the world’s first full head transplant, with the 30-year-old expressing hope of “success” in a pioneering operation he has deemed similar in importance to space travel while speaking in Moscow, Thursday.
Valeri Spiridonov (in Russian): “This technology is similar to the first man to walk in space. This is because in the future it will help thousands of people who are in an even more deplorable state than I am.”
Valeri Spiridonov: “We’re experimenting, which lead to a relatively successful transplantation of the body, but then it was not possible to transmit nerve activity in organs and limbs. In that operation it did not have a meaning. Canavero overcame this problem. He has technology that allows the merging of neurons. And it works. We hope that this technology will lead to success.”
The pioneering operation by Dr Sergio Canavero is to be carried out on a 30-year-old computer scientist who is suffering from a fatal muscle wasting disease.
“The recipient’s head is then moved onto the donor body and the two ends of the spinal cord are fused together,” said 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 last stage of the lenghy process would be to stitch up the muscles and blood supply.
The patient would then be put into a three or four-week coma to let the body heal itself while embedded electrodes stimulate the spinal cord to strengthen the new nerve connections.
The patient won’t be able to get up and walk around after the surger Dr Canavero said telling the New Scientist that the damage to the spinal cord would take about 12 months to heal fully. The patient would however keep their old voice, he adds.
Only time will tell if the body rejects the new head or not.
Valery Spiridonov has admitted that the prospect of going through with the operation is terrifying.
“I am afraid, but what people don’t really understand is I don’t really have many choices.”
“If I don’t try this out my fate will be very sad. With every year my situation is getting worse.”