This Is Some Mad Scientist [email protected]!#t: Russian Man to Undergo First Human Head/Body Transplant
I’ve often wondered if I’d ever want to have my consciousness uploaded into a machine cylon-style when my body inevitably starts deteriorating, but I’ve never thought about getting another actual human body. For Valery Spiridinov of Russia, that situation is very real, and he recently reached out to an Italian doctor (or “mad scientist,” depending on whom you ask), Sergio Canavero, to undergo the world’s first human head/body transplant.
Spiridinov suffers from Werdnig-Hoffman disease, a rare degenerative illness that is causing his body to waste away. For him, this risky and controversial procedure is a more pleasant option than the alternative. As reported in The Independent:
“Am I afraid? Yes, of course I am. But it is not just very scary, but also very interesting,” Spiridinov, speaking from his house in the Russian town of Vladimir about 120 miles from Moscow, told MailOnline.
“But you have to understand that I don’t really have many choices,” he said. “If I don’t try this chance my fate will be very sad. With every year my state is getting worse.”
The transplant is supposed to work by taking the head off of a sick person, like Mr. Spiridinov, and transplanting it onto the body of a brain dead person whose body is still functioning, which would require the family of a brain dead person to be willing to donate the entire body, not just organs, to this endeavor. When I think about how often organ donations fail to take, the idea of a full-body transplant seems that much more insane.
What concerns detractors more than Spiridinov’s willingness to go through with it is whether or not Dr. Canavero can actually perform the procedure the way he says he can:
Arthur Caplan, director of medical ethics at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, tells The Independent that even if Canavero could keep the body’s immune system from rejecting the head, the brains of transplantees “would end up being overwhelmed with different pathways and chemistry than they are used to and they’d go crazy,” while Dr. Hunt Batjer, president elect of the American Association for Neurological Surgeons, said “I would not wish this on anyone. I would not allow anyone to do it to me as there are a lot of things worse than death.”
Supposedly, Dr. Canavero intends the 36-hour procedure that would involve 150 doctors and nurses to take place as early as 2017.
I just…I can’t even.
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