A 30-year-old Russian man has volunteered to be the first to have his head severed off his body and transplanted onto another human body in a procedure that will be nothing short of radical.
Valery Spiridonov, the volunteer, says that he has a rare muscle condition called Werdnig-Hoffmann disorder known as spinal muscular atrophy, which causes one’s muscles to waste away and has no known cure.
He believes that the surgery could help prolong his life and also be a huge gain for scientific research.
“I’m very interested in technology, and anything progressive that might change people’s lives for the better,” Spiridonov said.
He went on to say that doing what he has offered himself to do isn’t only an excellent opportunity for him, but will also create a scientific basis for future generations, no matter what the actual outcome of the surgery will be.
The operation named HEAVEN an acronym for Head Anastomosis Venture is expected to last up to 36 hours and cost an estimated $11 million involves gory procedures which will require the assistance of around 150 doctors and nurses.
The whole operation will be coordinated by Dr. Sergio Canavero, a renowned neurosurgeon and director of the Turin Advanced Neuro-modulation Group in Turin, Italy.
Dr. Canavero explained that Spiridonov’s new body will be taken from “a brain-dead but otherwise healthy donor,” and Spiridonov’s brain will be cooled down to between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit to prolong the time brain cells can survive without oxygen.
The spinal cord will be cut with a special scalpel that’s especially sharp, and the head will be reconnected to the new body and spinal cord with a special biological glue.
Once the operation is finished, Spiridonov will be put into a coma for a period of three to four weeks to prevent any movement, and he will be given immune-suppressents so his body does not reject the new head.
Though this surgery could be a major breakthrough in science, some doctors believe there are too many risks involved in such a long, complicated, and dangerous procedure.
Spiridonov is not moved by associated risks and he says that he is aware of the risks, but still believes that this will do more good than harm.
“This technology is similar to the first man to walk in space,” he says. “This is because in the future it will help thousands of people who are in an even more deplorable state than I am.”
Dr. Canavero hopes to complete the head transplant operation on Spiridonov in 2017.