Two surgeons, one Italian and one Chinese, say they could perform the procedure within the next two years. The surgical team performed almost 1,000 head transplants on mice since 2013. None of the mice lived for more than a day.
A 30-year old Russian man with a rare spinal muscular disease will be the volunteer.
Russian-born Valery Spiridonov, 30, volunteered for the surgery. Spiridonov suffers from Werdnig-Hoffman disease, which is a type of spinal muscular atrophy that is characterized as an incurable and progressive wasting ailment. The disease is a rare disorder that affects males and females equally, while all types of spinal muscular atrophy are estimated to affect between 4 and 7.8 of 100,000 live births. Ren did not tell AFP which country the donated body is likely to come from.
Of course we don’t know as yet who the body donor will be. China has been known to use prisoners as organ “donors”.
If the head-transplant surgery proves successful, it could help people with intact brains but broken bodies, including those with spinal-cord injuries, muscle-wasting diseases and cancer. The surgery would likely take place at Harbin Medical University in China’s northeastern province of Heilongjiang.
This is a challenging undertaking on scientific and ethical levels. Critics think the doctors are getting ahead of themselves.