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 Post Post subject: head transplant?
Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 1:36 pm 
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Doctor believes surgically changing heads is now possible.

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Things didn't go so great for Victor Frankenstein or his monster, but don't tell that to Sergio Canavero.

The Italian doctor believes that it's now possible to slice the head of off one person, stitch it to the decapitated body of another, and then reanimate the two-human mash-up. What's more, he says the first head transplant operation could come in two years, New Scientist reported.

The goal of such an audacious operation would be to extend the lives of people whose bodies were too diseased or injured to keep the head alive. As Canavero told The Huffington Post in an email, "Go to any neurology ward, ask to see someone with muscle-wasting disorders, and the answer [as to why the surgery makes sense] will be crystal clear."

That sounds simple enough, if perhaps a bit ghoulish. But not everyone is convinced that head transplantation is medically feasible or ethically sound. And then there's the high cost of the head-swapping surgery--Canavero's best guess is $13 million a pop.

Canavero, of Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, first proposed the idea for head transplantation in 2013. Now, in a new paper published Feb. 3, 2015 in the journal Surgical Neurological International, he outlines the surgical techniques that he believes will move head transplants from the realm of science fiction to medical fact.

These range from cooling the head and donor body to prevent cell death to using a super-sharp blade to cut the spinal cords very cleanly so that the nerve fibers are better able to fuse. Following the surgery, the patient would be kept in a coma for weeks in order to prevent movement that might interfere with healing.

"The greatest technical hurdle to such endeavor is of course the reconnection of the donor's and recipient's spinal cords," Dr. Canavero wrote in 2013. "It is my contention that the technology only now exists for such linkage."

If Canavero sounds confident about head transplants, other medical experts think the good doctor is headed in the wrong direction.

"This is such an overwhelming project, the possibility of it happening is very unlikely," Dr. Harry Goldsmith, a clinical professor of neurological surgery at the University of California, Davis, told New Scientist. "I don't believe it will ever work, there are too many problems with the procedure."

Dr. Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at New York University, offered a similarly blunt assessment.

"To move a head on to someone else's body requires the rewiring of the spinal cord," Caplan wrote in an article for Forbes. "We don't know how to do that. If we did there would be far fewer spinal cord injuries. Nor, despite Canavero's assertions to the contrary, is medicine anywhere close to knowing how to use stem cells or growth factors to make this happen."

But Canavero is counting on bringing others into the fold, telling New Scientist that "before going to the moon, you want to make sure people will follow you."

Followers may be one thing Canavero can count on. He told the magazine that several people had already expressed interest in a new body.

No word yet as to how many people have expressed interest in a new head.

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 Post Post subject: Re: head transplant?
Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:50 pm 
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Wow, this headline caught my eye! :mad: Anybody got an extra $13 million lying around? No reason...just asking for a friend... O:)

;)

This sounds super crazy, but that doesn't mean that it won't eventually happen.

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 Post Post subject: Re: head transplant?
Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:37 pm 
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 Post Post subject: Re: head transplant?
Posted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 10:15 am 
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Who exactly will you take the head from???? And ethical? Whose personality will you have???

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 Post Post subject: Re: head transplant?
Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 1:52 pm 
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Blitz wrote:
Whose personality will you have???
Yours. The procedure is for a head needing a new body, not a body getting a new head. So I suppose it’s actually a body transplant. The description is a bit misleading. The guy is saying if your brain and everything is functioning properly but your body is failing for some reason, you can put your head on a different body.

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 Post Post subject: Re: head transplant?
Posted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 10:50 am 
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And what happened to the other guy? I don't feel like getting ambushed and taken to lose my body or better yet get a falling apart body.

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 Post Post subject: Re: head transplant?
Posted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 2:30 pm 
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I'm pretty sure the bodies will be from those who died of a head wound and the rest of their body is still in good shape.

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 Post Post subject: Re: head transplant?
Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 2:44 am 
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So, no reason, but is Chuck Norris planning on having a wayward anvil fall on his head any time soon? And if so is he going to then give his body away to the first person to call in that is named JB Christenson and was born in 1997? Maybe with 15,000,000 USD as well? Just wondering... Let me know...

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 Post Post subject: Re: head transplant?
Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 1:12 pm 
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So, if you had a head transplant, who are you? The person who's head was given a different body, or the person who's body was given a different head?

If this catches on there will definitely be some ethical questions raised.. :P

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 Post Post subject: Re: head transplant?
Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 1:18 pm 
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Right, as I said the wording is misleading. This would be more correctly described as a body transplant. It’s for someone who has a functioning head, but needs a new body to put it on. So you, the head, are still your consciousness, just on the former body of someone else.

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 Post Post subject: Re: head transplant?
Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 6:35 pm 
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bookworm wrote:
Right, as I said the wording is misleading. This would be more correctly described as a body transplant. It’s for someone who has a functioning head, but needs a new body to put it on. So you, the head, are still your consciousness, just on the former body of someone else.

So are we (as in, whoever decided this) making the stand that the soul of a person is in their brain then?

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 Post Post subject: Re: head transplant?
Posted: Wed Jun 10, 2015 12:59 pm 
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So are we (as in, whoever decided this) making the stand that the soul of a person is in their brain then?

I would agree with that statement. Because the brain is so linked up to human behaviour.


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 Post Post subject: Re: head transplant?
Posted: Fri Nov 17, 2017 12:36 pm 
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I happened to be recalling this thread a few days ago, and then strangely enough this was in the news this morning. It's about the same guy.

Italian doctor says world's first human head transplant 'imminent'.

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An Italian doctor announced Friday that he will soon perform the world’s first human head transplant in China because medical communities in the United States and Europe would not permit the controversial procedure.

"The Americans did not understand," Sergio Canavero told a news conference in Vienna.

Canavero said the Chinese government and Xiaoping Ren, a Chinese doctor partnering with him on the procedure, would confirm the surgery's date "within days" to signal its goal of becoming a world leader in all fields, including medicine.

"Chinese President Xi Jinping wants to restore China to greatness. He wants to make it the sole superpower in the world. I believe he is doing it," Canavero said.

In a phone interview with USA TODAY, Canavero decried the unwillingness of the U.S. or Europe to host the surgery. "No American medical institute or center would pursue this, and there is no will by the U.S. government to support it," he said.

Canavero would not divulge the identity of the Chinese donor or recipient. The donor will be the healthy body of a brain-dead patient matched for build with a recipient's disease-free head.

Canavero estimates the procedure will cost up to $100 million and involve several dozen surgeons and other specialists.

He will simultaneously sever the spinal cords of the donor and recipient with a diamond blade. To protect the recipient's brain from immediate death before it is attached to the body, it will be cooled to a state of deep hypothermia.

The recipient and donor will be in a sitting position to facilitate what's expected to be more than about 24 hours of laborious work to separate and then reconnect vertebral bones, jugular veins, the trachea, esophagus and other neck structures. Machines will help the recipient breathe, pumping blood through the body. The patient will be kept in a drug-induced coma for an unspecified recovery time.

Michael Sarr, a former surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and the editor of the journal Surgery, said Canavero's procedure is radical.

Doctors "have always been taught that when you cut a nerve, the 'downstream side,' the part that takes a signal and conducts it to somewhere else, dies," he said. "The 'upstream side,' the part that generates the signal, dies back a little — a millimeter or two — and eventually regrows. As long as that 'downstream' channel is still there, it can regrow through that channel, but only for a length of about a foot."

This is why, he said, if you amputate your wrist and then re-implant it and line the nerves up well, you can recover function in your hand. But if your arm gets amputated at the shoulder, it won't be re-implanted because it will never lead to a functional hand.

"What Canavero will do differently is bathe the ends of the nerves in a solution that stabilizes the membranes and put them back together," Sarr said. "The nerves will be fused, but won't regrow. And he will do this not in the peripheral nerves such as you find in the arm, but in the spinal cord, where there's multiple types of nerve channels."

There has been some success using Canavero's proposed technique on mice and dogs. In one example, a dog walked after six weeks, albeit with an awkward gait. "Based on the classic thinking about how nerves regenerate it was unbelievable," Sarr said.

Canavero said his team has "rehearsed" his technique with human cadavers in China, but there are otherwise no known human trials. He said the 18-hour operation on two corpses showed it was possible to reconnect the spinal cord and blood vessels. Before the full transplant takes place, two brain-dead patients will undergo the surgery.

Most medical experts say it's a long shot, but even if the operation works the biggest obstacle may not be the science itself, but whether it should happen at all.

"There are too many risks at this point to go ahead with it," said Assya Pascalev, a biomedical ethicist at Howard University in Washington, D.C. "We don't have enough data with animal models, sufficient published and peer-reviewed results, and particularly data about mobility and morbidity on the animals that have had the procedure."

Pascalev said that any groundbreaking procedure is certain to face objections and skepticism, and requires a leap of faith.

"The first heart transplant, hand transplant, facial transplant: all were met with serious reservations," Pascaley said. "There are also regulatory concerns. China does not have the same medical standards and requirements that the United States and Europe have."

She added that there were major unanswered questions about the recipient if the surgery succeeds, such as whether he or she would have legal rights to children produced by the new body. "It's not just about a head adjusting to a new body. We might be dealing with a whole new person."

Canavero dismissed these concerns. "Western bioethicists needed to stop patronizing the world," he said. He added that China's receptiveness to hosting the surgery reflected its determination to replace the U.S. as the world leader in all fields.

"Who sent America to the Moon? It was Wernher von Braun," he said, referring to the German immigrant who was an early rocket developer and space-exploration advocate for the U.S.

James Giordano, a professor of medicine and neurosciences at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, agreed with Pascalev that not enough rigorous study has been done to support a procedure with so many risks.

He said patients might be better served if Canavero focused on spinal reconstruction, not transplants. Yet he also gave him some credit for his pioneering work.

"He's run the ethical flag up the poles and said, 'Look, I'm not an ethicist, I'm a neurologist and this may be an avant-garde technique, I recognize there is a high possibility for failure, but this is the only way we can push the envelope and probe the cutting edge to determine what works, what doesn't and why.'"

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 Post Post subject: Re: head transplant?
Posted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 10:04 pm 
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Whoa, $100 million is quite the price tag...not to mention the ethical side of things. It is a crazy and fascinating idea, though.

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 Post Post subject: Re: head transplant?
Posted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:57 am 
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So if you're really ticklish and you get a body transplant, will your new body have the same problem?

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 Post Post subject: Re: head transplant?
Posted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:54 am 
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Tikvah wrote:
So if you're really ticklish and you get a body transplant, will your new body have the same problem?
That's actually a really interesting question. Does ticklishness come from the actual sensation on the body or from how sensitively your brain interprets it?

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 Post Post subject: Re: head transplant?
Posted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:43 am 
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I hope my insurance covers head transplants, it sounds like a hilarious prank! \:D/

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