Head Transplant Patient: ‘We’re Making Science’
Russian Valery Spiridonov suffers from a muscle wasting disease and is set to undergo the world’s first head transplant.
A man set to have the world’s first head transplant has told Sky News the operation does not worry him, adding: “We are making science.”
Russian Valery Spiridonov suffers from a muscle wasting disease and is today meeting an Italian neurosurgeon who claims he can perform a head transplant.
Dr Sergio Canavero wants to transplant Mr Spirodonov’s head onto another body as soon as 2017.
The proposal has been widely condemned by other doctors. Some have suggested the plan is an elaborate hoax.
Mr Spiridonov and Dr Canavero are speaking at the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons in Annapolis, Maryland.
Dr Canavero has already outlined his strategy for the operation in the scientific journal Surgical Neurology International.
He will cool Mr Spiridonov’s head with ice to help the brain survive once it is removed from its old blood supply.
The head will then be cut off and reattached to the donor body in stages.
The biggest challenge will be fusing the spinal cord, something that has never been achieved before.
But Dr Canavero will drench the two ends of the cord in a chemical called polyethylene glycol, which may encourage the fatty sheath around nerve cells to stick together.
The blood vessels and muscles would then be stitched into place.
Mr Spiridonov would spend the next three to four weeks in an artificial coma to immobilise his head.
But, according to Dr Canavero, he should be able to walk within a year.
He plans to test the technique on brain-dead organ donors.
Dr Canavero has admitted he may struggle to win ethical approval to carry out the operation in the West.