His name is Dr. Sergio Canavero, and he’s been generating a fair amount of attention around his suggestion that we (he) will be able to successfully execute a Head Transplant in the next two years.
I posted this, because it’s one of those big big big thoughts. I’ve been walking around with it in my head for the past week, and wow, there’s a large chunk of thinking that’s attached to this one.
The first step of Canavero’s proposed procedure would be to sever the spinal cords of both a recipient (who has a diseased body but an otherwise healthy head and brain) and a donor (who would likely be a brain-dead person, with an otherwise healthy body). He would then fuse the recipient head and donor body together, essentially giving the head a new body to control and inhabit.
In an interview with Live Science, Canavero described the procedure in an almost blasé way. “Once I attach a new body, I fully expect the head and body to adapt to each other,” he said. He even went so far as to compare head transplants to sending humans to space. “If America doesn’t [attempt the procedure], China will,” he said.
A Few Obstacles
It seems that the biggest obstacle is re-connecting the spinal chord. And while it seems most medical experts say we’re nowhere near that, Dr Canavero disagrees. It’s not the only obstacle. There’s getting the Central Nervous System up and running again, possible Immune System Rejection, and even if you get all of that right, you haven’t even started on the Ethical issues attached to this procedure.
“I think it’s ludicrously stupid,” said Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist, also at NYU. “You’d probably be charged with homicide if you chop somebody’s head off before they’re dead,” he added.
A person’s body is also very important to his or her personal identity, Caplan said. “The idea behind this [transplant] is to preserve you, but if the only way you could do it is to transform your body, you haven’t really saved yourself — you’ve become someone else,” he told Live Science.
Dr. Canavero spoke at a Tedx event at the end of 2014. It’s around 8 minutes long…..