First Human Head Transplant Set in Motion
As unbelievable as this may sound, doctors are getting ready to do the world’s first human head transplant.
The first attempt to transplant a human head will be set in motion this year at a surgical conference in the US, in an attempt find the backing to do the operation. Italian surgeon Sergio Canavero first proposed the idea in 2013. His goal is to remove the head of someone with an incurable illness and transplant it on to a healthy brain dead body. The surgery could be ready as early as 2017!
This may seem far fetched; keep in mind that in 1970 a team of doctors in Ohio successfully transplanted the head of one monkey onto the body of another. Although they didn’t attempt to join the spinal cords, enabling the monkey to move its body, the monkey was able to breathe with artificial assistance.
Dr. Robert White, a neurosurgeon in the 1970s, has performed 35 animal head transplants
Canavero fully expects the recipient operation to able to move, feel their face and speak with the same voice. He also predicts that physiotherapy will enable the person to walk within a year. Canavero has stated that several people have already volunteered to get a new body.
As one might imagine this kind of surgery brings up a lot of ethical questions such as, if the patient has children, would they biologically be the donors since the sperm or eggs came from the new body?
Initially, the surgery would be limited to those with severe illness. However over time, it could be used as a way for healthy people to live longer.
Canavero said that if science someday reaches the point where human cloning is easy, a 60-year-old could make a clone of themselves and then put their old head on their new, healthy body made from their own DNA, which would mean they would keep their memories and personality intact.