Neuroscientist claims head transplants now a realistic procedure
2013-07-04 0:00

By Adario Strange | DVICE

We can grow ears in the lab, restore hearing and sight in many cases, and fully working robotic prosthetic hands are now a reality. So it seems like was only a matter of time before we conquered the most outlandish of all medical feats ever imagined: a full human head transplant.

In a paper published in the June issue of Surgical Neurology International, researchers describe a method of actually transplanting a human head through advanced neurosurgery. Creepily code-named HEAVEN/GEMINI (Head Anastomosis Venture with Cord Fusion) the process is outlined by Dr. Sergio Canavero of Italy’s Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group.

According to the paper, the one hurdle preventing successful attempts before was the inability to attach a head’s spine to a donor body. However, Canavero’s writes, "It is my contention that the technology only now exists for such linkage. This paper sketches out a possible human scenario and outlines the technology to reconnect the severed cord…"

The paper, which describes experiments carried out in the ’70s on animals that had limited success, states that success would now be achievable through the use of special membrane-fusion substances called fusogens. According to Canavero, the body donor would need to be "a brain dead patient, matched for height and build."

Canavero’s paper makes for fascinating reading, especially when it delves into ethical and genetic topics. Canavero writes, "The HEAVEN created ’chimera’ would carry the mind of the recipient but, should he or she reproduce, the offspring would carry the genetic inheritance of the donor." And while some might cringe at such a scenario, Canavero himself admits, "I have not addressed the ethical aspects of HEAVEN."


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Top Image: The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, 1959 science-fiction/horror film

Would A Human Head Transplant Be Ethical?
By Susie Neilson | POPSCI

A couple professors sound off about the ethics of transplanting one human’s head onto another human’s body.
Two days ago, we reported on a controversial paper by Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canaveri about human head transplants. The paper, entitled “HEAVEN: The head anastomosis venture Project outline for the first human head transplantation with spinal linkage,” makes a claim straight out of science fiction: that the technology required for successful human-head transplantation is finally here, and that it could be used to help people with irreparable damage to their bodies and spinal cords.

But is it ethical?

Before human head transplantation could enter the realm of consideration, scientists would have to perform multiple successful experiments on primates, Stephen Latham, a bioethicist at Yale University, says. And none of those, he believes, would be condoned by any reasonable ethics committee.

But say the primate experiments did pass the ethics test. And so did the human trials. The fact remains that a head transplant is a bit outrageous for the needs of most patients, Latham says. In the case of quadriplegics, or individuals with full-body paralysis, scientists would perform less invasive surgical procedures before they attempted to replace the patient’s entire body, he says. “If you’d have the technology to attach spinal columns, you’d have certainly developed the technology to repair somebody’s broken spinal column,” he says, laughing.

Which gets at another ethical quandary: doctors might be motivated to perform head-switching operations for all the wrong reasons, Dr. Christopher Scott, a bioethicist and regenerative medicine expert at Stanford, worries. “You’d have to make sure the motivations are around a true medical need, and not some desire to be famous,” he says. “These questions have been raised before, in procedures like face transplants.”

In true bioethicist fashion, Scott notes that the surgery would raise some thorny philosophical questions, chief among them what makes us human: “What is the donor and what’s the recipient?” he says. “We all have an idea of personhood, right? Of what a person is. You know, a baby or a human becomes a person. And this procedure turns it on its head. Is this a person that the body belongs to, or the person the head belongs to? It’s a chimera, a hybrid person. …Those are some of the deeper questions that we should have a real discussion about."

Article from:

The fact is that this type of manipulation and experimentation is not new by any means. During wartime the Nazis did experiments on their human captors that would turn the stomach of the most hardened individual. Not to be outdone, the Russians did reanimation experiments in the 30s and 40s by means of an “artificial blood circulation system”. Below we see one of these disturbing experiments (warning, this is alleged to be real footage and is not for the faint of heart): Source

Experiments in the Revival of Organisms (1940) Part 1

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