When science and science fiction meet, the first head transplant is happening

Valery Spiridonov is suffering. The 31-year-old is bound to a wheelchair and terminally ill. It’s not a shock that when faced with this he might be willing to try something “outside the box”. He’s no volunteered to be the first person to have a head transplant.

“My motivation is about improving my own life condition,” Valery told Good Morning Britain. “It’s to get to the stage where I will be able to take care of myself and independent from other people.” Valery added, “Today my life is tough. I need people to help me every day, twice a day.”

According to The Sun newspaper the procedure would entail Valery’s body being frozen, cutting through the neck and spinal cord and placing the head onto a donor body using a special type of glue.

An Italian neurosurgeon, Dr Sergio Canavero, will be leading the operation and is confident of its success. He announced the operation would take place December of 2017. Many of his colleagues believe that it’s not possible to successfully complete this surgery while others say ethically it should happened at all.

One critic is the President of the Italian Society of Neurosurgery, Alberto Delitala, who told news.com.au, “If Canavero really had found a revolutionary technique to reconnect the spinal cord, then why not apply it to people with spinal cord injury before attempting a head transplant? I think that Canavero’s proposal is an escapist flight of fancy which unfortunately today is not possible.”

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Alberto added, “Our association’s stance is very clear: the central theme in the scientific method is that any new technique must be based on experimental tests submitted to an international scientific community before being applied to human beings.

“But Canavero has never been able to prove that he has succeeded in a head transplant on an animal.”

At the very least for Valery, it seems to be a case of having an option where he would otherwise have none.