It was just last year that Dr. Sergio Canavero caused a stir in the medical world by boldly pronouncing that he would be the first surgeon in the world to successfully transplant a human head onto the body of a deceased person. So, in many ways, it is really the first ever body transplant, as one Russian man is set to receive an entirely new body under Canavero’s operation.
A year later, Canavero is still confident in his claims even though a number of other experts and professionals in the field have shared their skepticism with the world, saying that Canavero’s “stunt” is nothing but a PR move or even some type of hoax.
As one might imagine, uproar in the medical community has been abound, leading to discussions of lawsuits. But, Canavero still maintains that it can be done and he will be the one to do it.
“Of course there will be ideas that crater. The history of mankind is trial and error. But we have to be dreamers. If you don’t dream, you’re not going anywhere. You might call me a bit crazy. A kook. I am! You have to be if you want to change everything,” he told The Guardian.
Canavero tells us that these types of ideas are definitely crazy, but that is the basic nature behind scientific exploration.
So, when is Canavero going to attempt this seemingly impossible endeavor? Sometime this year, he hopes. After trying to build a team of US surgeons at the 2016 meeting of the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons, Canavero is pushing forward with the proposal with or without them.
He has since put together a transplant team featuring surgeons from around the world, including China, South Korea, and Russia. All he needs is the proper funding and, of course, the approval for the operation.
“We’re looking at a date around Christmas 2017 to perform the transplant in China. The Chinese team has already experimented on human cadavers to hone the technology,” says Canavero.
What are the possibilities?
You’re probably wondering, “is something like this even possible?” And you’d be smart to ponder that.
Scientists in Canavero’s field say that what he is trying to accomplish is likely impossible. Even though scientists have made breakthroughs in the regeneration of spinal cord axons, the procedure is newly discovered and takes quite a bit of time, making it unlikely that Canavero will use it.
Many speculate that the patient receiving the transplant will almost certainly die. Others believe that, even if Canavero is successful in performing this feat, the result may not be something we’d wish upon on any creature, human or otherwise. They say that the differences that would occur in brain chemistry could make the patient experience levels of insanity never before witnessed.
Canavero has dubbed his new procedure the “head anastomosis venture,” also known as “HEAVEN.” But, we’re not entirely convinced that this operation will be anything like heaven. And many others are convinced that Canavero will learn almost nothing new, and nothing that could not have been learned by using cadavers.
What do you think about the possibility of a head or body transplant?