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Scientists Putting Their Heads Together For The First Head Transplant

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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In December of 2017, Italian neuroscientist, Dr. Sergio Canavero, is going to perform the first head transplant. If the surgery is approved, then the procedure would likely take place in China or another country outside of Europe or the United States, The Atlantic reports, as it would not be approved in the Western world.

Since Dr. Sergio Canavero announced his idea of doing a head transplant at the beginning of 2016, there has been much controversy over this topic. Canavero is presuming that transplanting Spiridonov’s head and brain onto another body would automatically transplant his whole self with his mind, personality, and consciousness.

The number one worry is if the surgery is going to work or not. The neuroscientist and surgeon think there is a 90% chance or higher that the procedure will work. If the surgeons “kill” the patient, then they would be charged for murder, but the patient has given the doctor’s consent to perform the head transplant on him. The neuroscientist and surgeon need 80 surgeons and $10 million dollars. Which is a worry because of the amount of people against the idea.

Scientists and surgeons that are against the idea say it is “bad science” or “this should never happen”. Dr. Jerry Silver, a neuroscientist at Case Western Reserve whose work on repairing spinal cord injuries was cited by Canavero, does not like this idea and says “Just to do the experiments is unethical,” he added, “Even in the unlikely event that the surgery worked, it raises further, uncharted ethical concerns.”

Another controversial topic is what the surgeon or neuroscientist is going to do with donor’s body. The organs in the donor’s body will not work if anyone of his family members need a transplant for a liver or heart, which would be considered a waste and tragic. Also, if Spiridonov were to reproduce with his new body, his children would not have his genetic makeup but that of the donor’s. What kind of rights, then, might the donor’s family have to the offspring?

Dr. Sergio Canavero has asked Chinese surgeon Dr. Xiaoping Ren to help him with this sensitive surgery. This neuroscientist and surgeon are performing the surgery on a Russian man named Valery Spiridonov. “Spiridonov suffers from Werdnig-Hoffmann Disease, a rare and often fatal genetic disorder that breaks down muscles and kills nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that help the body move. Spiridonov is confined to a wheelchair; his limbs are shriveled and his movements essentially limited to feeding himself, typing, and controlling his wheelchair with a joystick,” says the Atlantic Reports.

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Scientists Putting Their Heads Together For The First Head Transplant