The first human head transplant
All the details of a practice that seems to come out of a sci-fi film. The conflict between science and ethics is now millennial, but we have never reached such levels: the head transplant, that is to say the "displacement" of the head from one body to another, seems to be science fiction, and yet it's a reality today. The date of the operation was scheduled for December 2017.
It is therefore very short before one of the most revolutionary interventions that have ever been performed: the famous Italian neurosurgeon, Sergio Canavero, will carry out this delicate operation , and according to him, it will be the key to reach the immortality of the human being.
In December 2017, Dr. Sergio Canavero will transplant the head of a patient on the body of a man who died as a brain dead person.
Despite strong reluctance, the neurosurgeon continues to assert the full feasibility of the intervention: he has studied, practiced and deepened the science of transplantations for over 30 years and now claims to be able to successfully accomplish the most ambitious of all.
The patient concerned by this operation has a name: Valery Spiridonov.
The 30-year-old Russian man suffers from a neurodegenerative muscular pathology, known as the Werdnig-Hoffmann disease. The young man has repeatedly claimed to want to change his body at any cost and Canavero's program represents for him a hope of salvation, despite the real risk of a failure of the operation.
Transplantation is extremely delicate: the neurosurgeon said that, to date, all the techniques that make up the entire intervention are widely known and used, so there is no reason to think about failure. In the phase preceding the operation, Spiridonov's head and the donor's body (whose name will be kept secret) will be brought to a temperature of about -15 ° C, where all functions are reduced to a minimum.
Canavero will use a substance known as polyethylene glycol to dissolve severed spinal cords, which, in the opinion of the physician, will make a difference compared to other failed transplant cases.
The intervention will cost approximately $ 11 million, will last approximately 36 hours and will involve a medical team of 150 professionals.
The scientific hurdles that need to be overcome are numerous, as are the ethical issues.
After the operation, the body and the transplanted head will be kept in a coma for about a month to exclude any possibility of rejection. After waking, will follow a long course of rehabilitation. Sergio Canavero agrees that the main problem will be the psychological aspect: even if Spiridonov is convinced to undergo the operation, we can not know what will be his reaction when he finds his mind: the risk being that he lives in another body but in a similar situation of paralysis. Canavero revealed that it is very likely that virtual reality will have to be used to gradually accustom the patient to the idea of movement.
Remains the ethical question, also of prime importance: do we really want to live in a world where the human being can be potentially immortal? Anyway, the date of the intervention is really close ...