What once was believed to only exist in the movies, is now about to become a reality in a few short years: the world’s first brain transplant.
Professor Sergio Canavero, a Director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group in Italy, is planning to embark on the first human head transplant in 2018 and claims that he will then shift his focus to brain transplants.
According to an interview the Italian surgeon did with Ooom Magazine, there is no shortage of viable candidates who are interested in undergoing such a radical procedure. He claims that a “‘high number” of volunteers from all over the world have already come forward.
While the interest is certainly not an issue, he contends that not all candidates are well suited for the surgery. “The final decision is only made immediately prior to the operation, as it also depends on the body donor, who has to be compatible with the receiver in many ways, ” said the controversial surgeon.
Despite many scientists remaining skeptical that such an immensely complex organ can be thawed without sustaining irreversible damage, Canavero is still forging ahead with plans to “awaken” patients frozen by the Arizona-based Alcor Life Extension Foundation. In fact, the professor is aiming for the world’s first brain transplant to happen within three years.
He told the German magazine, “We will try to bring the first of the company’s patients back to life, not in 100 years. As soon as the first human head transplant has taken place, i.e. no later than 2018, we will be able to attempt to reawaken the first frozen head.”
As far as the possibility of the donor rejecting the brain transplant, he claims: “A brain transplant has many advantages. First, there is barely any immune reaction, which means the problem of rejection does not exist,” and added, “The brain is, in a manner of speaking, a neutral organ. If you transplant a head with vessels, nerves, tendons and muscles, rejection can pose a massive problem. This is not the case with the brain.”
However, he did admit to inherent risks both physically and psychologically when it comes to implanting a brain into an entirely different body and foresees that it will potentially pose many challenges.
Professor Canavero is reportedly working closely with a Chinese team of doctors led by Dr Xiaoping Ren, who helped perform the first successful hand transplantation in the U.S. The technology to carry out the world’s first head transplant is expected to be in place by the end of the year, and then the team will begin seeking a suitable donor body.
The Telegraph reports that the team successfully carried out a head transplant on a monkey last year.
If the human head transplant procedure is deemed a success, he believes it could open doors for science to better understand human consciousness and whether there is an afterlife.
“In a few months, we will sever a body from a head in an unprecedented medical procedure. In this phase, there is no life activity, not in the brain, not anywhere else in the body. If we bring this patient back to life we will receive the first real account of what actually happens after death. The head transplant gives us the first insight into whether there is an afterlife, a heaven, a hearafter.”
“If we are able to prove that our brain does not create consciousness, religions will be swept away forever. They will no longer be necessary, as humans no longer need to be afraid of death. We no longer need a Catholic Church, no Judaisim, and no Islam because religions in general will be obsolete.”
— Rory Field (@ViennRory) April 27, 2017
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