Monday, 27 March 2017

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Dr Canavero to Carry Out World's First Human Head Transplant in Dec 2017

A neurosurgeon planning to carry out the first human head transplant has revealed the daring operation could happen in the UK. Sergio Canavero wants to carry out the operation next year and believes it could lead to people paralysed from the neck down being able to walk again.  after a virtual reality system that will prepare patients for life in their new body was unveiled in Glasgow last week.

 Valery Spiridonov is getting all geared up to undergo the first ever human head transplant. The 31-year-old computer scientist from Russia is wheelchair reliant due to a muscle-wasting disease called Werdnig-Hoffmann disease (type I spinal muscular atrophy). The operation will allow him to walk for the first time in his adult life, according to the doctors. His surgeon Dr Canavero will be revealing more in September 2017 and the pioneering procedure is expected to take place in December 2017.

  • Professor Canavero has said the UK is the 'most promising place' in Europe to conduct the procedure, after a virtual reality system that will prepare patients for life in a new body was unveiled in Glasgow last week.
  • Speaking at the event, Professor Sergio Canavero said: 'so many countries are willing to follow me outside of Europe or the US.
  • Head transplant has been successfully done on a monkey, Sergio Canavero claims.

  • The choice of the UK is, in part, because of the huge amount of support that he has received from people in the country, Dr Canavero said.
  • '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,' he said, 'because if the UK says no then it will be somewhere else.' 
  • Russian man who has volunteered to have the first transplant has also revealed that his girlfriend is opposed to him having the operation 

Russian wheelchair user Valery Spiridonov has volunteered to take part in the first operation, which would see his head 'frozen' to stop brain cells from dying and tubes connected to support key arteries and veins. 
The spinal cord would then be cut, repaired and fused on to a donor body and the skin stitched back together.

Matthew Crocker, consultant neurosurgeon at St George’s Hospital, London, said every section of the operation has a grounding in current science and practice – at least in theory.
“Excluding blood vessels that supply blood to the brain then restoring them with tubes is very well recognised”, he told Sky News.
“Lowering the temperature of the whole body head and brain to between 10 and 20 degrees, usually around 15 to 17 degrees, is a very well recognised technique used for complex neurosurgery or cardiovascular surgery in which there is an expectation that the brain will be starved of its blood and oxygen supply for a substantial period."
Stage two sees the spinal cord cut with an extremely fine blade to minimise damage.
The donor head is then removed, placed on the recipient’s body, and the spinal cord fused back together again using polyethylene glycol, a compound used both in medicine and industrial manufacturing.

4 things you’re dying to ask about head transplants

  • What’s the difference between brain and head transplants?
A brain transplant would involve removing the brain from the skull and placing it in a donor skull. It is more difficult than a head transplant because of the complex surgery to separate the brain and blood supply without damaging delicate tissue.
  • Could the transplant technique work for a cryogenically frozen head?
No. The proposed technique requires a healthy human head and brain. It is not yet known whether it is possible to “defrost” a cryogenically frozen head and resurrect healthy brain tissue.
  • Would the surgery be psychologically damaging?
Some people who have received face or limb transplants mourn the loss of their old body part or feel that their self image is conflicted. Studies show that inputs from our body, such as a heartbeat or rumbling stomach, can influence our will power, emotions and language. Who knows whether the person who comes out of the operating room would be the same as the one who went in.

  • Would there be any benefits apart from getting a healthier body?
If the recipient head is older than the donor body, they may get a rejuvenating boost. Infusions of young blood can raise physical endurance and cognitive function in older animals. A study is now seeing if young blood has the same effect on people with Alzheimer’s.

The surgeon said a virtual reality system (illustration pictured) that will prepare patients for life in their new body was unveiled in Glasgow last week

If successful, the process could still lead to 'unexpected psychological reactions' from the patient as they get used to their new life, so a virtual reality world to prepare them for a different body is being developed.
Created by Chicago-based firm Inventum Bioengineering Technologies, the new VR system would enable patients to take part in sessions for months before an operation. 
Inventum chief executive Alexander Pavlovcik said: 'In preparing the patient of Heaven (Head Anastomosis Venture) to transition into a new body, virtual reality training will be used before the surgical procedure to prevent the occurrence of unexpected psychological reactions. 

'We are combining the latest advancements in virtual reality to develop the world's first protocol for preparing the patient for bodily freedom after the transplantation procedure.'
Prospective patient Mr Spiridonov said: 'Virtual reality simulations are extremely important as this kind of system allows [us] to get involved into action and learn fast and efficiently.
'As a computer scientist I am extremely certain that it is an essential technology for the Heaven project.'
Dr Canavero, director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, showcased the latest 'milestone' during a conference at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons.
He said: '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.
'A world in which he will be able to walk again.'
The procedure for cutting the spinal cord is said to be so delicate, with the need to avoid nerves, that a knife that can control cuts to a micrometre (one millionth of a metre) has been developed by Farid Amirouche at the University of Illinois. 

A cutting device developed by Professor Farid Amirouche at the University of Illinois, Chicago that will be used by a neurosurgeon planning to carry out the first human head transplant
The cutting device developed by Professor Farid Amirouche at the University of Illinois, can control cuts to a micrometre (one millionth of a metre)

The aim of the surgery is to first cut the spinal cord and then repair it before using electrical or magnetic stimulation to 'reanimate' the nerves and even movement in the corpse.
In an article for the Surgical Neurology International, Dr Canavero and his colleague in South Korea and China drew parallels to the infamous story of Frankenstein, where electricity is used to reanimate the fictional monster.
He pointed to experiments conducted in the 1800s using the corpses of criminals who had been hung as proof such tests could be successful.

Dr Canavero and his colleagues said: 'A fresh cadaver might act as a proxy for a live subject as long as a window of opportunity is respected (a few hours). 

Source - DailyMail

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