The World’s First Full Head Transplant Is About To Take Place

head transplant1This is one brave guy. But I guess if you are faced with the prospect of imminent tortuous death why not?

Valery Spriridov has authorized a full head transplant by an Italian surgeon. Dr. Sergio Canavero. He is a renowned neurosurgeon and director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group in Turin, Italy.

Valery suffers from a rare muscle wasting disease Werdnig-Hoffmann disorder, aka spinal muscular atrophy, which has no known cure.

As crazy as this may sound, there is an actual medical precedence for this procedure. Chinese scientist have transplanted the heads of a mice, Russian scientists have transplanted heads of 2 dogs and a doctor from Cleveland Ohio has transplanted the heads of a macaques monkeys and dogs as well.

dog head transplant

“I’m very interested in technology, and anything progressive that might change people’s lives for the better,” Spiridonov told RT. “Doing this isn’t only an excellent opportunity for me, but will also create a scientific basis for future generations, no matter what the actual outcome of the surgery is.”

The surgery is supposed to atake aroudn 36 hours and cost nearly 11 million dollars requirign the assistnace of nearlt 150 doctoes nad nurswes
Below. Dr. Cavanero explains at a TED-X talk that explains the procedure for reconnecting hte head to spinal cord.

Dr. Cavanero explained the procedure in a NewScientist article recently:

Firstly he would have to cool both the body and head so the cells won’t die when deprived of Oxgyen through the process.

Next, the neck of the patient 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 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 lengthy 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 surgery” 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.

Despite the risks involved and even if the procedure is a failure, it will be a huge opportunity for science.  The surgery is expected to take place in 2017.