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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

30 year old man volunters for first ever head transplant.

In one of our earlier posts, Doctors Quarter's Blog brought to you the report of an Italian scientist that is set to announce plans and schedules of first ever HEAD TRANSPLANT. Now, a 30 year old Russian is to be the first to undergo the procedure.

Dr. Sergio Canavero, of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group (TANG) in Italy, first spoke of his plans to carry out the first human head transplantation in July 2013 - a project named HEAVEN-GEMINI.
At the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopedic Surgeons' 39th Annual Conference in Annapolis, MD, in June, Dr. Canavero will present updated plans for the project, addressing some of the previously identified challenges that come with it.
Though researchers have seriously questioned the feasibility of Dr. Canavero's plans, it seems the first human head transplantation is a step closer to becoming a reality; Valery Spiridonov, a 30-year-old computer scientist from Vladimir, Russia, is the first person to volunteer for the procedure.
Spiridonov has Werdnig-Hoffman disease - a rare genetic muscle wasting condition, also referred to as type 1 spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). The condition is caused by the loss of motor neurons in the spinal cord and the brain region connected to the spinal cord. Individuals with the disease are unable to walk and are often unable to sit unaided.
Spiridonov was diagnosed with Werdnig-Hoffman disease at the age of 1 and told MailOnline that he volunteered for HEAVEN-GEMINI because he wants the chance of a new body before he dies.
'"I can hardly control my body now," he said. "I need help every day, every minute. I am now 30 years old, although people rarely live to more than 20 with this disease."
The procedure - which is estimated to take 100 surgeons around 36 hours to complete - will involve spinal cord fusion (SCF). The head from a donor body will be removed using an "ultra-sharp blade" in order to limit the amount of damage the spinal cord sustains.
"The key to SCF is a sharp severance of the cords themselves," Dr. Canavero explains in a paper published earlier this year, "with its attendant minimal damage to both the axons in the white matter and the neurons in the gray laminae. This is a key point."
The recipient will be kept in a coma for around 3-4 weeks, says Dr. Canavero, during which time the spinal cord will be subject to electrical stimulation via implanted electrodes in order to boost the new nerve connections.
The surgeon estimates that - with the help of physical therapy - the patient would be able to walk within 1 year.
Spiridonov admits he is worried about undergoing the procedure. "Am I afraid? Yes, of course I am," he toldMailOnline. "But it is not just very scary, but also very interesting."
"You have to understand that I don't really have many choices," he added. "If I don't try this chance my fate will be very sad. With every year my state is getting worse."
Written by Honor Whitman on MNT.