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Assuming that the procedure goes well, only time would tell if Spiridonov’s head and the donor’s body will accept each other. A head transplant was carried out on a monkey in 1970, but the monkey died eight days later due to a poorly-connected spinal cord and the body’s rejection of its new head.
According to some doctors, such a rejection, or the never-before-experienced sensation and chemical reaction of having a new body, could be worse than death itself, driving Spiridonov to insanity or a slow and painful death.
Dr. Canavero explain his theories of head transplants in this Ted Talk.
Could It Work?
Though neither a date or location have been chosen yet, the procedure is set to take place in December 2017. At a recent press conference, Spiridonov announced that Dr. Canavero would publicly reveal his plans about the procedure in September 2016.
Only 10% of people born with Werdnig-Hoffman survive into adulthood, so the fact that Spiridonov has survived for 31 years is a miracle in and of itself. Many people doubt the surgery will be a success, stating that we don’t yet have the technology to perform it, but what choice does Valery have? A successful procedure could mean a revolution in modern medicine and science, as well as hope for thousands of people across the world who could try and save or improve their own lives by undergoing the same surgery.
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