[caption id="attachment_67415" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Human head transplants a possibility Says Neurosurgeon (photo cbsnews.com)[/caption]Ethical Questions Arise Stemming from Neurosurgeon's Claim that Head Transplants Possible
Dr. Sergio Canaveri from Italy has touched off some poignant questions follow his remark that modern science now has in place the ability to successfully conduct human head transplants. The question has arisen: "would you want a head transplant?" However, that question misses the mark. The truth is probably that a segment of the population would want a head transplant. This is because it is really a body transplant.
People are willing to do all manner of surgical enhancements from breasts, penis enlargement, buttock implants, chins, cheeks, noses, liposuction, etc. Well, how about getting a brand new body? The hurdles will initially be ethics. Animal rights activists will be loath to see any animal decapitated so that its head can be reattached to another body as a proof of concept. There will be huge ethical hurdles to be crossed for the human clinical trials.
Yet, if the technology is there and the demand exists, compromises will likely be made.
But not everyone is convinced.
"It's complete fantasy, that you could use [PEG technology] in such a traumatic injury in an adult mammal," Dr. Jerry Silver, Case Western Reserve University neurologist, told CBSNews.com. "But to sever a head and even contemplate the possibility of gluing axons back properly across the lesion to their neighbors is pure and utter fantasy in my opinion... This is bad science, this should never happen."
Some neurosurgeons scoffed at the idea of head transplants saying that it would be superfluous given that it would require the ability to repair the spinal cord. If that ability exists then why go through the trouble of a head transplant. That answer presumes that medical necessity would be the only consideration and that is not likely to ever be the case.
Canavero's paper was published in the current issue of the journal Surgical Neurology International.
On The Web:
Would A Human Head Transplant Be Ethical?
Human Head Transplants Now Possible, Italian Neuroscientist Says (VIDEO)