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Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Russian Volunteers For 1st Head Transplant

A Russian computer scientist, Valery Spiridonov, says he is ready to put his trust in surgeon Dr. Sergio Canavero. The 30-year-old patient was born with Werdnig-Hoffman disease, a genetic muscle-wasting disorder that has left him seriously disabled since birth. A new body for Spiridonov's head would be procured from brain-dead donor:

The first man set to undergo a head transplant has been revealed, saying that he finds the controversial surgery “very scary, but also very interesting”.

Valery Spiridinov is set to be the first person to undergo the operation. It will be carried out by controversial Italian doctor Sergio Canavero, whose optimistic plans have mostly been met with scepticism.

But Spiridonov — who has the rare genetic Werdnig-Hoffman disease, which gradually wastes away muscles — says that he is willing to undergo the risky procedure to give himself a chance at living in a healthy body.

“Am I afraid? Yes, of course I am. But it is not just very scary, but also very interesting,” Spiridonov, speaking from his house in the Russian town of Vladimir about 120 miles from Moscow.

“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.”

Spiridinov said that he has spoken with Dr Canavaro over Skype but they are yet to meet. The Russian man was chosen from a number of people that emailed and wrote to Canavaro to ask to undergo the procedure, he said.

Canavaro raised scepticism earlier this year when he said that he would be able to carry out the procedure within two years. Other medical experts called the procedure unlikely, and rare, as well as highlighting the fact that it would never be used for those that simply want to replace an ailing body. Some have even compared Canavaro to Frankenstein.

The head transplant is set to work by taking the head off a person suffering from a wasting or degenerative disease, and transplanting it onto the body of someone who is braindead but still has a functioning body. It would be akin to the process of moving organs into a body — but would rely on the donor’s family giving away the entire body, rather than just parts of it.

The procedure was carried out on a monkey in 1970. But surgeons didn’t transplant the spinal cord, so the monkey could not move, and it lived for only nine days and died when the head was rejected by the body’s immune system.

It has never been done on a human, but Canavaro claims that all the necessary science and technology is now in place. “I think we are now at a point when the technical aspects are all feasible,” Canavaro has said. - Head transplant: Russian man to become first to undergo pioneering and controversial surgery

NOTE: Sounds like a freaking horror show to me...and there are many critics to this procedure. Dr. Canavero claims all the necessary techniques already exist to carry out a full human head transplant and believes he just needs to put the relevant techniques together to carry out the first successful operation. The new body would come from a normal transplant donor, who is declared brain dead. Both the donor and the patient would have their head severed from their spinal cord at the same time, using an ultra-sharp blade to give a clean cut. The patient's head would then be moved on to the donor's body and attached using a 'glue' called polyethylene glycol to fuse the two ends of the spinal cord together. The muscles and blood supply would be stitched up, before the patient is put into a coma for four weeks to stop them moving while the head and body heal together. During that time the patient would be given small electric shocks to stimulate their spinal cord and strengthen the connections between their head and new body. As the patient is brought out of their medically-induced coma, it is hoped they would be able to move, feel their face, and even speak with the same voice. Powerful immunosuppressant drugs would be prescribed to stop the new body from being rejected. In addition, the patient would require intensive psychological support.

On the other hand, if the procedure and results are not what were expected and the patient finds himself in a more difficult position, would he have an option for euthanization? Lon

The Ethics of Transplants: Why Careless Thought Costs Lives


Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

The Complete Human Body (Book & DVD-ROM)

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