A former NHS neurosurgeon has said a head transplant – which would see a person’s head, brain and spinal cord placed on a new body – could take place within a decade. The move could save countless lives, and potentially pave the way for immortality. The procedure had been considered impossible for some times, as it would involve severing the spinal cord and reattaching it to someone new during which doctors would have to keep the brain alive.
But Bruce Mathew, a former clinical lead for neurosurgery at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, believes the technology could soon be there to achieve the almost miraculous feat.
Dr Mathew told the Telegraph: “Initially our intention was to just brainstorm an idea and it seemed rather silly, but then I realised, it actually isn’t. If you transplant the brain and keep the brain and spinal cord together it’s actually not impossible.
“The spinal cord is the most profound thing imaginable.
“You need to keep the brain connected to the spinal cord.
World’s first human head transplant could take place in 10 YEARS – shock claim
“The idea that you cut the split the spinal cord is utterly ridiculous.
“You would take off the spinal column, so that you could drop in the whole brain and spinal cord and lumbar sacral into a new body.
“It’s very difficult to take out the dura (the protective membrane of the spinal cord) intact without making a hole in it. It will take a number of advancements, but it will probably will happen in the next 10 years.”
However, the potential procedure does sound some ethical alarms.
In April, 2015, Computer scientist Valery Spiridonov, announced he would be the first volunteer to undergo a head transplant.
Dr Hunt Batjer, president of the American Association for Neurological Surgeons, has previously said a transplant could result in the worst fate imaginable.
He said: “I would not wish this on anyone. I would not allow anyone to do it to me as there are a lot of things worse than death.”
In April, 2015, Computer scientist Valery Spiridonov, who is wheelchair bound due to a muscle-wasting disease, Werdnig-Hoffmann disease, which will one day kill him, announced he would be the first volunteer to undergo a head transplant.
The procedure, which has been constantly been delayed as experts try to thrash out what exactly needs to be done to ensure the patient’s survival, will be handled by neurosurgeon Dr Sergio Canavero – who has been dubbed the real life Dr Frankenstein.
Dr Sergio Canavero
Dr Canavero has previously claimed he is ready to perform the operation, insisting he has successfully severed and reconnected the spinal cord of nine mice.
Dr Canavero and a team of Chinese doctors severed the spinal cords of 15 rats, and attempted to reattach nine of them, with the other six as test subjects.
The team used polyethylene glycol, which is found in medicines but also industrial processes, to fix the spinal cords, while attempting to minimise blood loss.
All of the rats, bar one, managed to survive for an astonishing 30 days after the experiment, according to a report in the journal CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics.
The rats apparently even managed to walk again and regain basic motor functionality, while the researchers said two of the rodents returned to a state of being “basically normal”.