Medical science may see one of the most important operation in Medical history in coming year. Italian Neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero plans to perform the world’s first human head transplant within the next year.
Valery Spiridonov, 30, was diagnosed with a genetic muscle-wasting condition called Werdnig-Hoffmann disease caused by the loss of motor neurons in the spinal cord and the brain region connected to the spinal cord. Individuals with the disease are unable to walk and are often unable to sit unaided.He is the first person to volunteer for the procedure despite the risks involved.
“When I realized that I could participate in something really big and important, I had no doubt left in my mind and started to work in this direction,” says Spiridonov, a Russian computer scientist. “The only thing I feel is the sense of pleasant impatience, like I have been preparing for something important all my life and it is starting to happen.”
In 2015 Dr. Sergio Canavero had proclaimed that head transplant is possible and he is going to make it real. it has been about a year since his initial proclamation, and the Italian neurosurgeon still stands firm on his declaration, despite claims from other experts that it is nothing but a hoax or (at best) a PR stunt for a anime game called Metal Gear Solid. But Canavero stands firm, insisting that the attempt must be made at some point, so why not now?
He recently presented the results of his experiments on rats conducted in South Korea, which proved that spinal cord fusion is really possible. Russia, China, and Vietnam have already offered financial help to bring Dr. Canavero’s plan to succeed. Dr. Canavero said that inability to reconnect a severed spinal cord had always been a major problem, but experiments with rats using technology to be employed during operations on humans resulted in rats with re-fused spinal cords able to move again. “What is really important here is that the fused spinal cords functioned again, which means that the door is now open to perform such operations also on humans,” Dr. Canavero said.
According to Canavero, his good friend Xiaoping Ren at Harbin Medical University in China, performed a head transplant on a monkey but that it had to be euthanize for “ethical reasons” after 20 hours. He connected up the blood supply between the head and the new body, but did not connect the spinal cord. Canavero said the experiment, which repeats the work of Robert White in the US in 1970, demonstrates that if the head is cooled to 15 °C, a monkey can survive the procedure without suffering brain injury.
About the Russian help, Dr. Canavero said that he had already discussed the matter with many Russian surgeons and scientists. They showed a great deal of interest in the project but said they did not have the money to make it happen.
“I have asked several billionaires to pay for Valery’s operation. Dr. Xiaoping Ren told me he was ready to assist a Russian team of surgeons. Russia could join in the project with a parallel program, but it could become the first if we only get the necessary funding.”
When asked when he was going to operate on Valery, Dr.Canavero said it was slated for 2017 in China. The procedure is expected to last up to 36 hours, and it will require Spiridonov’s head be cooled as well as the donor’s body to extend the period during which the cells can survive without oxygen. Canavero calls the procedure the “head anastomosis venture,”. It may lead to new knowledge and information, but as other experts note, it will likely also lead to the patient’s death. ” But the Chinese team has already experimented on human cadavers to hone the technology,” Dr. Canavero revealed. “We have already proved everything we had to prove,” he said.