If the phrase “head transplant” sounds a little far-fetched to you, you”re not alone. Today, vital organ transplant is a routine procedure. There was even a woman who had an entire face transplant after an accident. But a whole head? That”s where your brain lives!
Nevertheless, Dr. Sergio Canavero says it can be done, and shockingly, he”s found a willing participant in 30-year-old Valery Spiridonov. Spiridonov was born with a rare genetic disorder called Werdnig-Hoffmann disease — a wasting disease that prevents muscles from growing. Diagnosed at age one, Spiridonov”s muscles stopped developing, deforming his skeleton and rendering him immobile.
His condition worsens daily, and he will eventually die from the disease.
Knowing that he”ll die without the procedure anyway, he contacted Canavero and volunteered to undergo the controversial head transplant surgery. It”s a risky choice, but Spiridonov explains that he”s almost out of options. He began communicating with Canavero via email two years ago, and is ready to take the plunge.
“Am I afraid? Yes of course I am,” he said. “But it is not just very scary, but also very interesting. You have to understand that I don”t really have many choices. If I don”t take this chance, my fate will be very sad. With every year, my state is getting worse.”
So, how does this work, anyway? For starters, it requires a few severed heads.
Spiridonov”s head and the head of a deceased, but otherwise healthy, donor body would be severed at the exact same time using a super-sharp blade to ensure a clean slice.
After replantation, the patient would be put into a four-week coma so that the body could heal itself. When he wakes up, Canavero hypothesizes that Spiridonov will be able to move, feel, and speak with his own voice. With the help of some serious anti-rejection drugs and immunosuppresants, the hope is that the body parts will fuse to become one, and will function as such.
(via Oddity Central, Evoke)
Many physicians accuse Canavero of oversimplifying what it would take to reconnect a spinal cord. For that reason, he”s having trouble finding the $10 million of funding and the 150-member staff it would take to make this surgery a success. Fittingly enough, he”s also being compared to Dr. Frankenstein.
Other doctors also claim that, if the surgery was successful, Spiridonov would experience something worse than death.
At the end of the day, though, Spiridonov and his family are on board. They view it as a pioneering step into the future of medical science, even though the concept is difficult for most people to grasp.
Stay tuned for more updates, as the procedure is set to take place within the next year.