It seems like something more out of science fiction rather than reality, but this is no fiction according to Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero. A few short years ago, Canavero performed a head transplant surgery on a monkey, and although the monkey did not live, the procedure saw the monkey live several days after the procedure.
Now, at a press conference in Vienna, Sergio Canavero, alongside with his collaborator in China, Xiaoping Ren, claim they have ‘successfully’ transferred a human head from one cadaver to the other using this radical new surgical procedure.
According to Sergio Canavero, the next step in this experiment is performing the procedure on two clinically brain dead humans with the consent to use their bodies for science. This next phase comes after years of experimenting on rats, dogs and of course primates. Although some see his experiments as unethical, Canavero is the author of the radical procedure known as “HEAVEN” which stands for the “Head Anastomosis Venture” project.
The total procedure is said to last a total of 36 hours and will involve a team of over 150 specialists to see that it is completed. The two entities involved will be a donor and a recipient. The donor body must be matched for height, build, and a similar immunotype. The donor must also be screened for signs of brain disease before the transfer is allowed.
To protect the brain during the surgical procedure, the recipient’s head must be chilled to a temperature of between 10-15 degrees Celsius. This will reduce brain activity to a point where the transfer will not be such a shock to the head.
The cuts necessary to be placed on the spine will involve a new type of specialized diamond shaped cutter called the Geminotome, which will sever the spinal cord in a precise enough cut, so as to ease the transfer to the donor’s spine. After each of the heads is severed, the spinal chord on both the head and the body will be coated with a new black colored waxy sealant designed to help stitch together the nerves in the donor and recipient. This substance which contains a special type of nanoribbons was designed by William Sikkema, a Canadian scientist from British Columbia.
The entire procedure is not without its risks. Theoretically, if the donor should go ahead with the project, the road to recovery would take months, even years to come back from, that’s assuming the project itself is a success. The entire project has not been without skepticism and backlash from the scientific community, however, Sergio Canavero is determined to see the success of the HEAVEN project come through.
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