Heads Will Roll

Are you suffering from complete paralysis? Good news! Soon you may be able to have a total head transplant!

Italian surgeon Sergio Canavero and a team of other scientists have been experimenting with animals and human cadavers, and hope to offer the surgery to  treat complete paralysis within the next two years. The team has reported transplanting a monkey’s head, which resulted in no apparent brain damage. Canavero is currently looking for funds to perform a transplant on Russian patient with muscle-wasting disease.

No official papers have been submitted for peer-review, which makes the surgeon’s announcement seen pretty unorthodox. Thomas Cochrane, a neurologist at Harvard Medical School, says, “…[the] operation has mostly been about publicity rather than the production of good science.”

Multiple huge ethical issues aside, many critics are suggesting Canavero invest his time into studying nerve regrowth of injured spinal cords rather than conducting total head transplants. Other experienced surgeons are interested in the research merely as proof of principle.

Personally, I am all for the expansion of science and technology in the medical field, for the right reasons, but a total transplant of a human head seems extreme and somewhat creepy. Despite all the reading I have done, many questions still arise.

Read the full story in this article (which may be graphic for some audiences!) from New ScientistHead Transplant, which includes a photograph of an actual monkey stitched up at the neck, and a video of a mouse with a severed spinal cord having the ability to walk again. Googling Sergio Canavero’s name will also lead to a wealth of information pertaining to the topic.

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