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Frankendoctors Now Attempting to Transplant Human Heads Onto Another Person’s Body; but What Happens to the Original Head?

Friday, September 4, 2015 17:04
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Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero has announced that he plans to perform a human head transplant by the end of 2017. He has described a 36-hour surgery in which the head of a brain-dead body donor would be removed and replaced with the still-functioning head of a person with a debilitating disease.

The technology to perform this procedure already exists, Canavero says, and he estimates that the chances of success are around 90 percent. However, many surgeons and scientists have raised serious questions about Canavero’s arguments. In a recent editorial in The Independent, molecular medicine PhD candidate Darren O’Hailin of Freiburg University examines the major scientific problems unaddressed by Canavero’s ambitious plan.

Gluing the spine back together?

Canavero’s plan begins by cooling the spinal cord of the donor body and the head of the patient to a temperature below 20°C; this would keep both nervous systems alive for less than an hour. In this time, the surgical teams would have to remove both heads, transfer the patient’s head and reconnect it to the donor body’s spine and blood vessels. Canavero plans to fuse the two spines with a glue-like substance called polyethylene glycol (PEG). The blood vessels, muscles and connective tissues of the necks would then be connected using conventional stitching techniques. The patient would then be placed into a medically-induced coma for three to four weeks to recover.

The proposal rests upon the fact that while spinal tissue is technically able to reconnect, this nearly never occurs naturally because injuries that sever the spinal column nearly always crush too many of the delicate nerve connections to allow healing. Canavero insists that with a sharp enough surgical knife, the PEG glue and electrical stimulation would stimulate the two separate spinal columns to fuse.

No evidence procedure could work

O’Hailin identifies several major flaws with Canavero’s proposal. First, he notes that animal experiments have never successfully fused separate spines. It has also never been demonstrated that a severed head can be kept alive for the hour demanded by Canavero’s plan.

Read More HERE


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