Thirty-year-old Russian Valery Spiridonov has just confirmed that he’s working closely with Dr. Sergio Canaveron for the first full head transplant. Earlier this year, the Italian surgeon obtained many mixed reactions for his almost-impossible endeavor: he’s planning to move a head to a donor body. In fact, he was serious with his plan he has already published a paper in Surgical Neurology International.
He’s also sharing it with hundreds of orthopedic and neurologic surgeons during their annual conference in June.
Spiridonov, meanwhile, thinks that being a volunteer gives him a chance to participate in science. He also thinks it may be his only opportunity to live well.
He is suffering from Werdnig-Hoffman disease, where he experiences a wasting away of muscles since he was a child. According to him, his disease has become progressive and that he constantly needs help every day.
Should the operation push through, it will be very invasive and last for about 36 hours. It may also need the assistance of more than a hundred nurses and doctors.
To proceed, there will be a donor body believed to be from a brain-dead person. They may have to be operated on side by side, with each of their heads removed at the same time, making sure that the nerves are kept intact as much as possible. The donor body may also be submerged in very cold water to preserve it longer.
Then the head of Spiridonov will be transferred to the donor body, with all the nerves and blood vessels connected to the spinal cord using very special bio glue.
After the head is already attached and all openings are sutured, Spiridonov will be placed in an induced coma for at least two weeks to allow the head and neck to heal properly. Once he wakes up, he should be able to communicate and feel his face, although it may take as much as a year to regain all functions of his new body.
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