A brilliant surgeon says the first successful transplantation of a human head is planned to take place in under a year from now.
Italian geneous-surgeon Sergio Canavero is adamant – the plan to re-attach a human cranium (to the same body OR a different one) in 2018 is a go.
As it happens with pretty much everything else, when the world heard for the first time Canavero’s claim that an operation like that is an actual possibility, most of his colleagues were skeptical, to say the least. That was in 2015 and despite the bold headlines (*you can find the original material in OOOM magazine), the media was more or less treating it as entertainment.
Well, that’s in the past.
The historic operation is already planned and will take place in China, where a national team of specialists, headed by doctor Xiaping Ren, the author of a lengthy research on the subject, will take on the challenge.
Ren is the perfect leader for such a project, since he and his team are the first ever to perform a successful transplantation of a human hand. In 2016 Canavero and Ren wrote an article for an international Neurology journal, listing all possible scientific risks involved with such an advanced procedure. The sheer amount of time needed for the operation is over 36 hours.
There are, of course, other technical difficulties, but Canavero is not one to get scared, since he already did the head-swap procedure once… on a monkey. Still there are those, who take an ethical issue with the core concept. Bioethicist A. Caplan thinks Canavero is plain crazy to ever take on such an idea. How would the mind of the patient deal with a new body? How would his biochemistry change? Questions that need answers in advance and Canavero doesn’t have them.
But he’s confident, none the less.
“I won’t speak in detail right now, but I’ll say this: the progress that we’re witnessing right now is immense and the possibilities are endless” Canavero said. “The revolution in modern medicine is finally here and we’re at the helm of it. ”
Canavero is so sure of the success of the procedure, that he’s already planning the next big thing – the transplantation of a human brain. He estimates it’s going to happen sometime in the next two to three years.
Transplanting a brain is way better than transplanting a whole head. For one, it the immune response would be negligible and that opens a lot of possibilities. But then there’s the problem with how a brain would take on everything that’s new to it. Will it update?”