Just the idea that a head can be taken from a body and given another body seems like a thing you’d see out of a horror movie. But is this actually possible? Is a head transplant only a thing of the movies? Not anymore, according to recent developments.
A new project has been kick-started which will attempt to produce the first transplanted human head. The project, under the name Head Anastomosis Venture with Cord Fusion, or HEAVEN, is breaking headlines all over the world. The project’s leading researcher, Dr. Sergio Canavero claims that many surgical hurdles that prevent the transplant of a human head have now been cleared. The only problem would be getting the spinal cord nerves to grow back and connect with an unfamiliar head/ body.
It should be noted, however, that head transplants aren’t new. Back in the 70’s, there have already been experiments involving transplantation of the head of a monkey. Apparently, the monkey survived for 8 days before succumbing to death due to not having any nervous control over its body. Dr. Canavero states that “It is to my contention that the technology finally exists for such linkage.” We now have the medical equipment necessary to support such link.
The paper also raises some questions in terms of ethics and genetics. Apparently,
While the HEAVEN created “chimera” would essentially be carrying the mind of the recipient, should he or she reproduce, the offspring would carry the genetic inheritance of the donor.
Lead Researcher, HEAVEN Project
Therefore, when talking in terms of reproduction, the body will pass the genes, not the head. This has brought about much controversy in terms of the ethics involved in a head transplant given those conditions. Dr. Canavero himself admits that he has not addressed this issue.
Whether or not you will be against or for head transplanting given the circumstances in which it will work, everything is still up to speculation as the HEAVEN project is still under way. It’s only a few months or year’s time, however, before a very first Frankenstein will be made into reality.