Human Head Transplant May Be Possible, But Should We?

body-art-marc-quinn

Body Art by Marc Quinn

Will we soon be able to swap heads willy-nilly like Jodorowsky’s  short film La Cravate? Will the cryogenic dreams of the Quick 8 come to fruition? It appears that now it is now theoretically possible according to this article from the Telegraph.

Dr Sergio Canavero believes that the technology now exists that will allow surgeons to carry out the Frankenstein-style procedure, which has been tested out on animals since 1970.

Up until now there has been no way to successfully reconnect the spinal cord, leaving the subjects paralysed from the point where the transplant was connected.

Recent advances have meant that re-connecting the spinal cord is now possible, and it is believed that the breakthrough means that previously fatal diseases could be cured.

Speaking of animal tests here’s a video: Experiments in the Revival of Organisms

(Warning: some readers may find the following video extremely disturbing. – ed.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDqh-r8TQgs

Showing the reanimation of removed animal organs. Also, the in/famous procedure by Sergei S. Bryukhonenko, a Societ scientist during the Stalinist era.   Using a decapitated dogs head showing it reacting to outside stimuli.

back to the article

However, other experts have dismissed the idea.

Professor Anthony Warrens, from the British Transplantation Society, told the Sun: “Connecting a head to a body is worthless to human beings today. The whole concept is bizarre.”

I agree, it is bizarre yet brings up interesting concepts such as the soul and other philosophical questions.

In 1970 Robert White successfully transplanted the head of a rhesus monkey onto the body of a second rhesus, and Dr Canavero, a member of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, has proposed using a similar method.

He said: “The greatest technical hurdle to such endeavour is of course the reconnection of the donor’s and recipient’s spinal cords. It is my contention that the technology only now exists for such linkage,” he wrote.

“It is argued that several up to now hopeless medical conditions might benefit from such procedure.”

This is the selling point, the clincher, the appeal to emotions. Yet if there is no soul or Sheldrake‘s morphic resonance, then what is to be lost? Surely we mustn’t allow the decapitation of past dogs, monkeys, and more to go in vain. Or should we? Many years of watching way too many horror movies tells me that this is where things can go absolutely wrong. The noble scientist, oblivious of anything that cannot be proven, breaking open the doors to bestial horrors that torment,maim and kill.

“This is no longer science fiction. This could be done today — now. If this operation is done it will provide a few people with a substantial amount of extra life,” he said. “The only reason I have not gone further is funding.”

However, Dr Calum Mackellar, from the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, added: “This sounds like something from a horror movie.”

Dr Mackellar gets it, and I think others do as well but for reasons beyond the cautionary tales told in B-movies. It’s taboo, and new terrain that may improve lives.

 

 

 

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9 Responses to Human Head Transplant May Be Possible, But Should We?

  1. Chaorder Gradient July 8, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    i’d like to see it before i believe a successful spinal connection

  2. Juan July 8, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

    I’d like to see some therianthrope action, Dr. Moreau style. Maybe a human head on a chimp body. Or the head of a man on the body of a . . . oh, I don’t know, a goat.

  3. DeepCough July 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    Consider also this possibility.

    http://pool.theinfosphere.org/images/a/a2/Head_museum.png

  4. danno July 8, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    I’m not sure if “should we do it” is a useful question. This implies some sort of moral or social convention it could be in contention with. If we are a free society, someone volunteering for a head transplant should be a matter of engineering, not social convention.

  5. rhetorics_killer July 8, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

    I wonder who in this procedure is given the role of the recipient and the donor. Is the head considered given to a recipient body or the body given to a recipient head? Added to technical issues, this is a legal one, which should be cleared as soon as possible. Think about the conflicting issues: in whose name shall we refer this new hybrid? Should we not consider it a third mind, a new human made of every memory this presence owns. Let us remind that as much as our heads our bodies are full of acquired memories and experiences, especially sexual ones, but also traumas, etc.

    We may also foresight a few ‘unity issues’ in this corpse: according to the magus GI Gurdjieff, the presence of a man stands in three ‘brains’ (the very brain, the spine and the solar plexus) he has to make operate in tune, the difficulty being that we are genetically flawed and these ‘brains’ report a strong tendency to contradict each other, resulting in all kinds of internal contradictions we experience every day. In the light of this, one can imagine the hell of a life such a disparate collage can generate.

  6. The Well Dressed Man July 9, 2013 at 2:27 am #

    Two heads are better than one!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7aLXehSXAo

  7. terrasodium July 9, 2013 at 4:09 am #

    In related news, Vladimir Putin invites members of the IMF to a gala opening of the laser exhibit in the newly re-purposed ,former Siberian gulag, museum of modern science. President Putin stating only that these events help ” only to build long term relations with our heads of finance”, and Putin also commented that regrettably, the long range missile exhibit will no longer be displayed due to lack of public interest. Can America respond in the race into face ?

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