Neurosurgeon to Give First Human Head Transplant
Professor Sergio Canavero has decided that the UK is the most promising place in Europe to offer the first human head transplant. He believes the procedure would offer an opportunity to people paralyzed from the neck down to be able to walk again. Yesterday the professor presented a virtual reality system, at a Glasgow talk show, that will prepare patients for life in a new body.
Professor Canavero performed the first successful head transplant on a monkey earlier this year. “The monkey fully survived the procedure without any neurological injury of whatever kind,” says Professor Canavero, but said it was kept alive for only 20 hours after the procedure for ethical reasons.
The first volunteer, Russian wheelchair user Valery Spiridonov, has offered to have his head frozen. This would stop brain cells from dying and tubes would be connected to support key arteries and veins. The spinal cord would then be cut, repaired and fused on to a donor’s body. The skin would then be stitched back together. Professor Canavero said, “This virtual reality system prepares the patient in the best possible way for a new world that he will be facing with his new body. A world in which he will be able to walk again.”
Although the professor hopes to offer the operation next year he still has not found a suitable location. He said, “So many countries are willing to follow me outside of Europe or the US, I’m now trying to bring this to the west and I will try my best to make this happen here in the UK.”