An Italian surgeon has dreamt about it and a Russian is ready to be the first patient. The plan is to perform the operation in 2017, in a procedure that is estimated to take 36 hours, and will require a staff of 150 doctors and nurses.
The procedure involves cooling down both donor body and patient’s head, then do the transplant and use a special chemical that will cause both ends of the spinal cord to fuse together. The patient will then be kept in a comatose state and his body will be prepared for waking up by electrically stimulating the spinal cord. The procedure is called Head Anastomosis Venture or “HEAVEN” for short and available details so far are very sketchy.
The point of the operation is to give people with degenerated muscles and nerves or cancer-permeated organs a second chance at life. In the 20th-century, such attempts were made using dogs and monkeys, but the recipients did not survive for more than a few days. A recent test using mice was successful, fueling further research that led to the current plans.
Now, a Russian man by the name Valery Spiridonov has agreed to be the first person to have their head removed and transplanted onto a new host body. 30-year-old Valery is suffering from a genetic disordered called “Werding-Hoffman muscle wasting disease,” which is slowly killing him, and the procedure may be his last chance at life.
Can you close your eyes and imagine how far science has progressed in our lifetime? It is a pity that people still die of starvation and infections which are totally preventable and yet every day somewhere in the world we are doing wonders in the field of medicine! Why does the unknown challenge fascinate us and the known still overwhelms humankind?