Creepy it may sound but Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero is gearing up to perform the first human head transplant in the world. According to him, this will happen within next 12 months and the operation will last for 36 hours.
Valery Spiridonov, a 30-year-old Russian man with muscular atrophy, is the willing patient, who will spend much of his preparation time inside a virtual reality machine, said Canavero. According to him, this through this machine he will get used to his new body.
Spiridonov had announced his willing participation last year. A controversial Chinese surgeon, who has been transplanting heads on more than 1,000 mice over the past few years, has come forward to help Canavero with the operation.
Canavero has claimed that he has successfully performed head transplant on a monkey and has reconnected the severed spinal cords of mice.
Few months ago, he also announced that he has performed a similar procedure on a dog and claims that the canine was able to walk again after its head was reattached to its partially severed spinal cord.
"I would not wish this on anyone," Hunt Batjer, president of the American Association for Neurological Surgeons had said last year. "I would not allow anyone to do it to me as there are a lot of things worse than death."
As Christopher Hooton at The Independent put it, "[F]using a head with a separate body (including spinal cord, jugular vein etc) could result in a hitherto never experienced level and quality of insanity."
Canavero says he will train Spiridonov to deal with the the "unexpected psychological reactions" using a new VR system so that he could be prepared for what he might experience when he wakes up with a brand new body.
"This virtual reality system prepares the patient in the best possible way for a new world that he will be facing with his new body," Canavero said. "A world in which he will be able to walk again."
Chicago-based tech firm Inventum Bioengineering Technologies has developed the system, which helps head transplant patients to deal with the shock of seeing someone else's body attached to their heads.
And let's just take a moment to appreciate how incredibly creepy their press shots are:Also at the conference, Canavero said he's still figuring out where he will perform the procedure in late-2017, but says the UK is looking like the best fit at this stage:
"[I] had so much good feedback from Britain, from surgeons, that I do believe that it could get real traction if we push it hard here, so it is time for you here in Britain to start discussing all the ethical implications and if you are willing to see this happen here, because if the UK says no, then it will be somewhere else. But in Europe the UK really looks like the most promising place," Canavero said.