It's science fiction come to life!
If you can do something, does it mean that you should do it? One Italian neurosurgeon believes so.
Professor Sergio Canavero, MD is lashing out at his critics who say that his desire to transplant a living person’s head onto another body is twisted and unethical. Canavero claims that after much research and testing, he’s figured out how to successfully perform a head transplant. He’s heading to China in order to test out the procedure on the living.
At a press conference in Vienna, Austria in November, Dr. Canavero said that he would soon leave Europe to go to China to perform the first live human head transplant. Using a brain-dead patient and healthy head donor, Canaveral will meet with Xiaoping Ren, another surgeon. Before he left though, the doctor called out western countries for not allowing him to perform his experiments based on their strange and possibly unethical nature.
“The Americans did not understand,” he said, “Chinese President Xi Jinping wants to restore China to greatness. He wants to make it the sole superpower in the world. I believe he is doing it.”
The doctor continued to denounce America and Europe for their non-cooperation to USA TODAY. “No American medical institute or center would pursue this, and there is no will by the U.S. government to support it,” he said before estimating that the surgery could cost around $100 million.
Though many doctors and surgeons have said that transplanting a head is not even possible, Dr. Canavero claimed that he figured out how to sever and attach a spinal cord to a different spinal cord without the body or head dying. He plans to use deep hypothermia and a solution that stabilizes the cord’s membranes for a short time. He also has to reconnect the back bones, veins, the trachea, esophagus and muscle tissues.
Head transplants have been tested on mice and dogs with some success, according to Canavero.
Whether or not Dr. Canavero and Xiaoping Ren can successfully transplant the heads is not as important as the implications of the surgery.
“There are too many risks at this point to go ahead with it,” said biomedical ethicist Assya Pascalev of Howard University. “We don’t have enough data with animal models, sufficient published and peer-reviewed results, and particularly data about morbidity and mortality on the animals that have had the procedure.”
Science Fiction and Horror
Other doctors felt that the procedure could lead to horrific consequences like the head to be transplanted waking up while being unattached to a body. Dr. Marc Siegel likened Dr. Canavero’s experiments to those of the Nazi physician, Dr. Josef Mengele. Mengele was known for conducted bizarre and revolting experiments on people imprisoned in concentration camps.
“The brain has millions of nerve endings that can’t simply be reattached,” Siegel wrote to Fox News. “Any attempted head transplant is likely to cause tremendous pain, not to mention instant rejection that no amount of immunosuppressive drugs would be sufficient to overcome.”
Despite all of the outcry against Dr. Canavero’s desire to switch heads on bodies, he claimed that it would be a “tremendous revolution.” “The surgery is long and tedious, but absolutely feasible. One thing is certain. Spinal cord fusion is a reality and head transplants will happen,” Dr. Canavero told Newsweek.
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