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Project outline for the first human head transplantation with spinal linkage (surgicalneurologyint.com)
43 points by nkurz 1609 days ago | hide | past | web | 31 comments | favorite

If there ever was a time to wait for version 1.1 of something, this would be it.

Couldn't agree more. I'd hate to be the guy stuck with the buggy beta.

Well, presumably the alternative is to die...

Interesting, though mostly because of our gut reactions, not because there's anything terribly complicated or new about the moral repercussions, etc.. It's not much different from normal organ donation in most respects.

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.

There's some research that shows our body "chooses" to do something before our mind tells it to.

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?)

"During the GEMINI procedure, the surgeons will cut the cooled spinal cords with an ultra-sharp blade: This is of course totally different from what happens in clinical spinal cord injury, where gross damage and scarring hinder regeneration. It is this "clean cut" the key to spinal cord fusion, in that it allows proximally severed axons to be "fused" with their distal counterparts. This fusion exploits so-called fusogens/sealants."

Considering that a face transplant currently requires a lifetime regimine of immunosuppressives (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Face_transplant#Ethics.2C_Surge...) in order to have post-op acceptance of the transplant by the host, I would expect nothing less in this more extreme form of surgery.

I would hate to be the recipient of this procedure; then fin my body (their body?) rejecting the transplant!

in the article " Immunosuppression is induced by a specific medication regimen and is monitored by the transplant physician and transplant coordinator. Posttransplant blood samples need to be drawn at regular intervals to screen for the development of antidonor antibodies. Ideally, serum is drawn concurrent with obtaining tissue biopsies to facilitate correlation of histology with systemic markers of immunologic activation. Biopsies should be performed regularly for suspected rejection or infection."

Would it be the body or the head that rejects the transplant? And what would actually happen if it is rejected? Sudden death? Slow death?


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.

I'm interested to know how does the anaesthetic work in this case. It wasn't mentioned in details (or maybe I missed it), but since most substances are transferred in blood stream how would they go about it? Wouldn't reconnection to another body completely mess up the process? Or maybe the temperature drop would be enough to keep the current state.

Either way - in happy to hear how close we are to the world of yesterday's science fiction.

The head is technically dead for a short time and kept refrigerated. Also keep in mind there is no signal to be received by the brain in the first place since the spinal chord has been severed.

I'm not sure I see the point. It's already extremly difficult to transplant one organ and make it last, so a whole body?

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?

You are not transplanting a whole body, you are transplanting a head. If this paper is to be believed, there is a smaller risk of a hyperallergenic reaction for some reason. IANAD, but maybe it's because the head has no organs in the sense that it doesn't contribute to the production/purification of blood.

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!

I can imagine people that are paralyzed from the neck would want to participate in such an operation. "Donors" would be people that have are brain-dead with intact bodies. However, current organ donor rules probably do not regulate the donation of your body as a whole ... That said, such an operation probably will not play a big role in the future treating such crippling injuries.

Maybe it is extremely difficult, but it's also fairly common regardless. Transplants are being done every day. If someone cannot be fixed in any other way - that's often a "cheating" way out.

"Want to lose ~150 lbs fast?"

That's not very imaginative. "Tired of having a man's body? Get a woman's!"

_I Will Fear No Evil_ was one of Heinlein's odder novels.

Hmm, I'm not familiar with it. Is it good?

If you like late-period Heinlein, it's good. Or at least fun. If you feel his work declined after or starting with Stranger, then this novel will fulfill your expectations.

There's nothing really ground-breaking in it (at least, from the standpoint of the late 1980s, when I read it).

Ah, thank you, I'll read a bit of it and see if I like it.

Page tells me required url params are missing, but the url is shown and no required params are missing. Maybe a different error that hasn't been handled correctly?

The modern Prometheus, indeed.

Does anyone have a copy of the text? All I'm getting is a blank page.

Removing the "o" from "Canavero" in the URL did the job for me. Don't know why, but there you go.

It would be a great, fast way to get the body you always wanted :D.

I'm sure the market for donor bodies would be very, very small.

Except it'll feel like someone else's body ...

I'd fear more that with a continuation of my life style the new body would eventually turn into the old one ;)

Posession is nine-tenths of the law.

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