World’s First Head Transplant Scheduled For 2017

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A Russian man is set to have the world’s first controversial head transplant, performed by an Italian neurosurgeon in 2017. 

Valery Spiridonov suffers from a muscle wasting disease, and describes the pioneering surgery as science in the making.

Sky News reports:

The proposal has been widely condemned by other doctors. Some have suggested the plan is an elaborate hoax.

Mr Spiridonov and Dr Canavero are speaking at the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons in Annapolis, Maryland.

Dr Canavero has already outlined his strategy for the operation in the scientific journal Surgical Neurology International.

He will cool Mr Spiridonov’s head with ice to help the brain survive once it is removed from its old blood supply.

The head will then be cut off and reattached to the donor body in stages.

The biggest challenge will be fusing the spinal cord, something that has never been achieved before.

But Dr Canavero will drench the two ends of the cord in a chemical called polyethylene glycol, which may encourage the fatty sheath around nerve cells to stick together.

The blood vessels and muscles would then be stitched into place.

Mr Spiridonov would spend the next three to four weeks in an artificial coma to immobilise his head.

But, according to Dr Canavero, he should be able to walk within a year.

He plans to test the technique on brain-dead organ donors.

Dr Canavero has admitted he may struggle to win ethical approval to carry out the operation in the West.

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