Head transplant, anyone?
Coming near you soon, a maverick performing human head transplantation. The idea of head transplantation has a long history. Performing it in humans however is a different kettle of fish.The present day advocate is an Italian neurosergeon Sergio Canavero. He has passionately championed the idea and you should listen to him here at a TED talk.
His attempts have however not convinced the American Neurosurgeons who rebuffed his attempts to involve them. Who would be the guinea pig for Dr Canavero! There is already a patient waiting eagerly, and these journalists discuss the layman’s view of the patient’s perspective.
A pacesetter or a crank? Too early to pass judgment but history shows that the scientific establishment repeatedly resists ground-breaking progress: remember in-vitro fertilization, antibiotics for peptic ulcer etc? I recently reviewed two books on my other blog, thedoctorsbookshelf.com, and both books, The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine and Bad Medicine, cite several examples of this type of institutional conservatism. Reassuringly not everyone is dismissing him and some are already talking the ethics of head transplantation.
Canevaro on the other hand seems to have done his homework well. Gauging by this paper which reviews the planned protocol he is taking the matter seriously. And this newspaper article suggests a team will be set to go in 2017!
We have to watch this space.