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Human Head Transplants Might Actually Be Possible
- 07/12/2013 07:36 AM EDT Sci/Tech
Dr. Sergio Canaver, an Italian scientist and probable Bond villain, recently published a paper outlining how it might be possible to graft one human's head onto another human's body, a procedure that's been possible with animals since the 1970s.
In the past, the primary barrier to head transplants has been reconnecting the spinal cord to the brain, without which, the body below the point of transplant would be paralyzed. In his paper, Dr. Canaver argues that new advances in re-connecting spinal cords that were severed surgically means we should be able to do it with humans.
Writing in Quartz, Christopher Mims describes the process like this:
"Moving quickly, surgeons must remove both heads at the same time, and re-connect the head to be preserved to the circulatory system of the donor body within one hour.... total cardiac arrest must be induced. Once the head is reconnected, the heart of the donor body can be re-started, and surgeons can proceed to the re-connections of other vital systems, including the spinal cord."
If you think that sounds easy, it's hardly on the horizon. Canaver's paper is still speculative, since a spinal cord reattachment has never been attempted. And if it was possible, he estimates it'd cost at least $10 million for the surgery, leaving it out of reach for most.