An Italian surgeon believes that human head transplant will become a reality in 2 years’ time. Dr. Sergio Canavero is a surgeon in Turin, Italy and believes that 642-883 the procedure would revolutionize medicine and the way people are being treated.
He said that a human head transplant would help extend the lives of people with terminal diseases and allow people with spinal cord injuries to let their old body behind and get a new one.
Canavero revealed that all the technology that is needed for a human 640-878 head transplant is either already available or not very far off in the future. The doctor will be presenting an introduction about human head transplant at a conference in June about orthopedic surgery where he hopes his peers will offer expertise and support.
Canavero said that for the human head transplant to be successful, the spinal cord would need to be cleanly cut so that nerve damage is minimized. The next step would be moving the head onto the body of the donor and the muscles and blood vessels would be stitched together.
Naturally, the most challenging part would be fusing the two ends of the spinal cord, which currently cannot be done. Canavero thinks that using a chemical that would encourage the fat in the cell membranes of the spinal cord to glue everything together.
After the stitching is done the patient would need to stay completely still for several weeks for that they don’t disturb the new connections and the Italian surgeon proposes they be kept in a coma. Keeping someone in an artificial coma is a very challenging and dangerous thing, so scientists would need to figure out a way to do it safely. The patient would learn to walk in about a year, Canavero believes.
A head transplant was attempted in the 1970s when scientists transplanted the head of a monkey onto the body of another one, but they didn’t even attempt to fuse the spinal cords. As a result, the monkey could not move or even breathe unattended. It died nine days later after its immune system rejected the head.
As expected, the notion that a human head transplant is just around the corner was met with much criticism from the scientific community. Dr. William Mathews, a spinal surgeon and chairman of the AANOS (American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons) revealed that the idea of spinal fusion is indeed plausible but he added that it was highly unlikely that anyone would succeed in doing it in the next two years. He concluded, referring to Canavero:
He thinks he’s ready, I think it’s far into the future.
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