Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Sergio Canavero head transplant: man will be attached to new body in under one hour and aim is immortality, doctor says

Published 23/04/2015

Italian doctor Sergio Canavero, who claims that he will transplant a man’s head onto a donor’s body, has said that he could do much of the procedure in less than an hour.

The procedure — which Canavero has admitted is just a first step towards his ultimate aim of creating immortality — will see a man's head removed and placed on a donor's body.

That will see the man's head get cooled down — as it is when doctors operate on some parts of the brain — and switched onto the different body. Doctors will then have a few minutes to attach the blood vessels and the whole thing will take less then an hour, Canavero said.

After that, the full joining process could take up to 24 hours. Canavero said that it would be carried out by a team of doctors to ensure that none of them got tired, and that doctors and surgeons from around the world had enquired about joining that team.

Canavero said that he will explain the procedure in depth at a neurosurgeons' conference on June 12. "I'll prove it is totally possible to all the sceptics there."

The patient for Canavero's first attempt at the head transplant has already been chosen, and identified as Valeri Spidonov. He is a 30-year-old Russian man who has Werdnig-Hoffmann disease, which wastes away his muscles and means that his health is rapidly declining.

As well as casting doubt on the scientific likelihood of the procedure, doctors have said that if successful it could cause huge problems for Canavero. One expert warned that Spidonov could suffer something "a lot worse than death".

The doubt of those in Europe and Russia mean that Canavero could head to China to carry out the procedure, he said.

"I'm ready for that. I've been studying Chinese for a few years.

"You should understand that it's not simply a medical procedure. This surgery has a political meaning."

Italian doctor Sergio Canavero has drawn criticism from the medical community for his idea
Italian doctor Sergio Canavero has drawn criticism from the medical community for his idea

Canavero’s comments come as conspiracy theories circulate on the internet that the entire head transplant story could be a marketing stunt. Internet users have pointed out the similarities between Canavero and a character from the game Metal Gear Solid 5, and have claimed that the entire tale could have been created by the game’s creator Hideo Kojima.

The conspiracy centres around a number of coincidences between Canavero's story and that of Metal Gear Solid. Canavero published an article about the surgery, which he was then calling "Gemini", as an article two days after the launch of Metal Gear Solid 5, which featured characters called Gemini that had cybernetic heads. There are a range of other unlikely coincidences, including special names and timings.

It’s unlikely that Canavero’s story is fake — he has published over 100 papers and carried out genuine medical procedures, as blog Kotaku noted in a post detailing the claims — but has brought extra attention to Canavero’s claims.

Source: Independent

Further reading

Man undergoing operation could experience something 'a lot worse than death', says neurological expert

Russian man to undergo pioneering and controversial surgery

Head transplants 'within two years'

These neurosurgeons must be off their heads  

Independent News Service

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More