From the article:
I have not addressed the ethical aspects of HEAVEN. In Thomas Mann's "'The Transposed Heads," two friends, the intellectual Shridaman and the earthy Nanda, behead themselves. Magically, their severed heads are restored - but to the wrong body, and Shridaman's wife, Sita, is unable to decide which combination represents her real husband. The story is further complicated by the fact that Sita happens to be in love with both men. This short story highlights the ethical dilemma that must be faced: The HEAVEN created "chimera" would carry the mind of the recipient but, should he or she reproduce, the offspring would carry the genetic inheritance of the donor.
However, it is equally clear that horrible conditions without a hint of hope of improvement cannot be relegated to the dark corner of medicine. This paper lays out the groundwork for the first successful human head transplant.
So, swapping the body seems like it could be exciting for this kind of stuff.
I think it's fascinating that we can't keep a head alive on a machine (I wonder how much body can be removed and still, using machines, have a living brain / head?) but that we can transplant a head.
The paper isn't loading for me at the moment, but what do they mean by "spinal linkage"? If we can transplant a head why can't we fix broken back injuries? (Or can we, and I just don't know?)
I would hate to be the recipient of this procedure; then fin my body (their body?) rejecting the transplant!
However, in this scenario, the body would have a distinct advantage (if you can call it that), given the disparity in mass and organ distribution. The body would have far more immune system capacity than the head in this case. White blood cells, for example, are produced in the bone marrow.
I'm no doctor, but given the importance of the brain and your spinal cord to even just the nervous system, I'd imagine that death would come rather quickly in an all out rejection.
Either way - in happy to hear how close we are to the world of yesterday's science fiction.
Maybe as temporary measure while massive (deadly?) treatments are performed on the original body?
Last but not least, if you transplant a head on a new body and this new body has children, whose children are they? Is our identity only in the head?
There's all kinds of afflictions that might threaten your life but not your head, from cancer that's spread to a critical organ to blunt trauma to any critical trauma. If something destroys your body, this might be the last and only solution.
The children will be biologically of the new body you have. I don't think anyone has written a law on this yet, but I suppose the children will be legally yours, and yours to raise and culture :)
Most of our identities is in our heads, though some things linked to your character are linked with things in your body. Perhaps your appetite is, and perhaps your preference for sporting/outdoor/indoor activities. I bet a lot of this is not yet well known or researched, and the world would be very intrigued by how you feel about things after the surgery!
There's nothing really ground-breaking in it (at least, from the standpoint of the late 1980s, when I read it).