The medical team to perform the first ever human head transplant is already complete and a date is already set. Volunteer patient, Valery Spiridonov, is excited to finally undergo transplant that will set world’s first record.
According to Fox News, the transplant is scheduled for December 2017. Spiridonov could not wait to finally have his new body despite the risks involved with procedure. Fox News reported that his head will be cooled as well as the donor’s body in order for cells to survive even without oxygen. Spiridonov is suffering muscle degenerative disease called Werdnig-Hoffmann. The disease has imprisoned him on a wheelchair for almost all his life.
“When I realised that I could participate in something really big and important, I had no doubt left in my mind and started to work in this direction,” Spiridonov was quoted as saying by Fox News, citing Central European News. “The only thing I feel is the sense of pleasant impatience, like I have been preparing for something important all my life and it is starting to happen.”
The transplant will be performed by two leading transplant scientists – Italian physician Sergio Canavero and Chinese surgeon Ren Xiaoping. “According to Canavero’s calculations, if everything goes to plan, two years are needed to verify all scientific calculations and plan the procedure’s details,” Spiridonov said.
“It isn’t a race. No doubt, the surgery will be done once the doctor and the experts are 99 per cent sure of its success.” Spiridonov added. Ren told AFP that the operation would likely take place at Harbin Medical University in China’s northeast Heilongjiang province.
Canavero officially announced he will partner with Ren early this month. Speaking with the Xinhua News, Canavero said despite the criticism of the procedure, “[a successful] head transplant will change the course of human history by curing incurable medical conditions.” He added that only “Ren Xiaoping is the only person in the world able to lead this project.”
According to Xinhua, Ren is widely known in China as the “real-life Dr Frankenstein.” In 2013, he successfully transplanted the head of a mouse to another mouse’s body. He had already led a team of scientists who performed nearly 1,000 head transplants on mice. His team has hit a survival record of transplanted mice for one day. He will be performing the same procedure with primates sometime this year, Xinhua reported.
Ren, however, is facing criticism among Chinese medical practitioners. Wang Yifang, a medical ethics expert with the Institute of Medical Humanities at Peking University, questioned the ethical aspects of the human head transplant. “It’s very complicated. You have your own head but another’s body, so who are you? Even if it becomes possible, using a donor’s body, whose healthy organs can help several people, on just a single person might not be fair. Also where can donors be found?” Wang told Xinhua.