by Rachel Alexander | January 23, 2016 12:48 pm
A surgeon has come up with a controversial operation that will delight paralyzed people. Dr. Sergio Canavero wants to transplant human heads onto other bodies.
The Daily Mail reports,
Neuroscientists in China are said to have taken a major step towards that goal by decapitating two rhesus monkeys and connecting the head of one animal to the other’s body.
The news was publicised by Sergio Canavero, a controversial Italian neurosurgeon and associate of the Chinese team, who said the success of the new method used paved the way towards a repeat operation — involving humans.
British experts in surgery and ethics were quick to condemn the proposal. However, Dr Canavero declared: ‘The world will never be the same again.’
Beyond using the technique to help people with severe illnesses or bodily paralysis, Dr Canavero predicts that people could in future get healthy new bodies at will, potentially extending their lives indefinitely, with an ever-older head on young shoulders.
The volunteer he has selected for a human head transplant is Valery Spiridonov, a computer scientist from Vladimir, 120 miles east of Moscow.
Mr Spiridonov has a fatal muscle wasting disorder called Werdnig-Hoffman disease that has left him wheelchair-bound with a tiny body.
‘I am now 30 years old, although people rarely live to more than 20 with this disease,’ he said last year. ‘I can hardly control my body now. I need help every day, every minute.’
Dr Canavero wishes to push the boundaries of ethical debate much further. He says that in future elderly people might even clone their own bodies, creating a younger copy of themselves onto which their head could be stitched.
Does this go beyond the boundaries of what is ethical? Will he be permitted to perform these operations? It’s a slippery slope. Canavero says he intends to use the bodies of healthy but brain dead people for the body transplants, but could this open the door to selecting a perfect body from someone who is not brain dead.
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