Dr. Sergio Canavero, a member of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group (in other words, a respected scientist), has just made a startling claim. In a recent paper published in Surgical Neurology International, Canavero declared that successfully transplanting an entire human head from one body to another is now possible. All the technical barriers preventing such an operation — of which there are many — can now be overcome, he claims.
“The greatest technical hurdle to [a head transplant] is of course the reconnection of the donor’s and recipient’s spinal cords. It is my contention that the technology only now exists for such linkage.”
In layman’s terms, this means that scientists now know how to connect a new head to the body’s spinal cord, preventing paralysis.
Of course, overcoming this technical hurdle doesn’t mean we’ve overcome the many moral hurdles that accompany the prospect of human head transplants.
(Possibly mad) scientists have been transplanting animal heads since the 1970s, but humans are a completely different story. You can’t just mess around and start swapping people’s heads.
There’s also the issue of whether we should even call them head transplants. It’s not really about a body getting a new head, it’s about a head getting a new body. It’s really more of a body transplant — unless you’re one of those weirdos who believes the soul resides somewhere other than the brain.
These ethical issues will be worked out in time, but don’t expect the first human
head body to be transplanted any time soon — we only transplanted the first face back in 2010. The future possibilities for individuals whose bodies are irreparably injured are immense, though, so start thinking about what kind of body you want now and try to get on the waiting list.
Me? I want the body of a 7-foot basketball center.