A 30-year-old Russian man has volunteered to become the first person to undergo a controversial head transplant, to be performed by an Italian surgeon sometime in the next two years.
Medical News Today
reports that Sergio Canavero, M.D., of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group in Italy, has said he plans to carry out the first human head transplantation and is slated to provide an update at the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopedic Surgeons' 39th Annual Conference in Annapolis in June.
Although some researchers have questioned the feasibility of Dr. Canavero's plans, Valery Spiridonov — a 30-year-old computer scientist from Vladimir, Russia — has stepped up to volunteer for the procedure.
Spiridonov has Werdnig-Hoffman disease — a rare genetic neurological muscle-wasting condition that renders him unable to walk or even sit unaided.
Spiridonov said he volunteered for the operation because he wants the chance of a new body before he dies.
'"I can hardly control my body now," he said. "I need help every day, every minute. I am now 30 years old, although people rarely live to more than 20 with this disease."
Dr. Canavero told CNN
he has received many emails and letters from people asking to be considered for the procedure, which is estimated to take 100 surgeons around 36 hours to complete.
It involves the head from a donor body to be removed using an "ultra-sharp blade" to limit the amount of damage the spinal cord sustains. The spinal cord of the donor body will then be fused with the spinal cord of the recipient's head. The muscles and blood supply will then be sutured.
The surgeon estimates that, with physical therapy, the patient would be able to walk within a year.
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