With a mixed feeling of angst and anticipation, Russia’s Valery Spiridonov has been reported to have volunteered to become the first person ever to undergo a head transplant operation.
Spiridonov, a computer scientist with an extremely rare spinal disease resulting from a genetic disorder called Werdnig-Hoffman disease and does not really have that much time to live. He is confined on a wheel chair and feels the affliction is worsening.
What motivated the Russian to become the world’s first head transplant is after hearing the controversial surgeon Dr. Sergio Canavero of Italy say earlier this year that a human head can be removed and attached to physically healthy body.
Canavero calls his transplant procedure HEAVEN, an acronym for head anastomosis venture.
He says it is possible to severe the heads of a living patient and a brain dead patient, with an otherwise healthy body, and re-attach the spinal chords, adding that he has a “magic” way of sealing the spinal cords so that they will fuse.
“Am I afraid? Yes, of course, I am,” said Spiridonov.
“But it is not just very scary but also very interesting … you have to understand that I don’t really have many choices.
“I am now 30 years old, although people rarely live to more than 20 with this disease.”
Canavero’s claim that it can be done has been met with a range of reaction, ranging from skepticism to outright horror among members of the medical community.
However, Dr Canavero has said in the past that medicine is now technically ready for such an operation to be successful – the only hurdles remain in the ethics of the operation.
Canavero confirmed he will perform the surgery on Spiridonov, saying, it would take place in 2017.