SODOM & GOMORRAH: Dr. Sergio Canavero of Italy plans to lead a team of more than 150 doctors and nurses in the first human head transplant surgery in history.
The patient is Valery Spiridonov, a 30 year old Russian man who has a rare form of spinal muscular atrophy. Mr. Spiridonov has volunteered for the procedure in hopes that he’ll be able to walk again. Several medical experts criticize the plan, saying that Dr. Canavero is “nuts”. Arthur Caplan, a director of medical ethics at New York University’s Langone Medical Center argues that patients of head transplant surgeries risk a form of insanity worse than death. He states that they “would end up being overwhelmed with different pathways and chemistry than they are used to and they’d go crazy.”
Dr. Hunt Batjer of the American Association for Neurological Surgeons concurs, saying that he would not allow anyone to perform such a surgery on him.
Dr. Canavero disagrees and plans to move forward. The surgery is scheduled to take more than 36 hours and the process involves cooling the head to 53 degrees Fahrenheit before detaching it and reattaching it to the body of a brain dead patient that had been previously donated. The doctor claims that the patient will be able to walk again within a year of the procedure.
This remarkable operation was first performed in the 1970’s on a monkey. After the surgery, the monkey’s body rejected the new head and left the animal unable to move or breathe.