Neuroscientist Sergio Canavero of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group in Italy believes his new spinal cord fusion technique will allow him to perform the world's first human head transplant in two years. Run screaming, now!! Canavero intends on revealing his findings at The American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons' annual scientific conference in Maryland this coming June.
Previous obstacles to such a radical surgery have been the body rejecting the transplanted head and inability of the spinal cords to be effectively united. Although heads have been attached to test monkeys since back in the 1970s, the new noggin did not allow use of the subject's body, and eventually, after nine days, the monkey's body rejected the head.
Canavero's breakthrough methods apparently overcome those challenges, and he documents the protocol in a newly published medical report, explaining how his "Gemini" technique would allow the transplanted head to operate its brand-new body. Basically, blood vessels in the fresh head and body are first connected by a network of small tubes, with healthy spinal cords cleanly cut and fused together with polyethylene glycol, which encourages fat in cell membranes to mesh together. Even though only 10 to 15 percent of the available neurons are expected to fuse together, Canavero insists the patient undergoing the sci-fi procedure should be able to move their facial muscles, use their own voice and theoretically walk entirely on their own after a year of physical therapy.
Attaching a healthy head to a surgically beheaded donor body may sound like a horrifying concept, but the future ramifications of its successful implementation are truly mind-blowing.
Should we sign you up right now?
(Via The Mary Sue)