No, this is not a joke or an onion parody. There is actually a man in Russia who has volunteered to receive the world’s first human head transplant (or body transplant, depending on how you look at it).
Valery Spiridonov, who suffers from a rare form of spinal muscular dystrophy called Werdnig-Hoffman disease, recently met with Italian Dr. Sergio Canavero who has agreed to perform the 36-hour operation. The procedure will also require Spiridonov to be put in a medically induced coma for 3-4 weeks.
Spiridonov and Canavero were recently in the United States — where Canavero has said he wants to do the surgery — presenting their case to the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons (AANOS).
In the latest episode of BioTalk, Rebecca Taylor and I talk about the ethical considerations of this and and other extremely invasive medical procedures, our tendency to treat mental diseases as physical diseases, recent comments from the Vatican on plastic surgery and how it relates to transhumanism and the importance of “bodily integrity.”
Or audio only:
Movie suggestion: The Brain that Wouldn’t Die (with MST3K commentary, natch).