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Off with his head!

| November 18, 2016 | 0 Comments

Here’s your chance to share with your senior students what may be either the hoax of the century or the greatest medical breakthrough of our time.

Most people around the world are still totally dismissive of the news that Russian citizen Valery Spiridonov hopes to be the first-ever recipient of an entirely new body.

Wheelchair-bound computer scientist Spiridonov, who suffers from Werdnig-Hoffman disease, a rare and incurable spinal muscular atrophy, said in an interview:”I am not going crazy here and rushing to cut off my head, believe me. The surgery will take place only when all believe that the success is 99% possible.”

The surgical team (comprising 150 nurses and doctors), aiming to do the transplant in China in 2017, will be led by Italian Sergio Canavero, a neurosurgeon at the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group in Italy. China was chosen because of its more relaxed attitude to medical experimentation. Many have dubbed Canavero “Dr Frankenstein” and say there is absolutely no possible way for any surgical team on earth to successfully fuse the spinal cords in question.

Dr Christopher Winfree, assistant professor of neurological surgery at Columbia University, has pointed out that the most obvious danger – aside from instant death – is rejection, a threat common to all transplants.

Other ethical questions include, “Is transplanting an entire body to save one life the best use of a cadaver full of organs ripe for transplant?” And Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at the New York University Langone Medical Centre in New York City (who opined “I think it’s ludicrously stupid”), set off other alarm bells. “You’d probably be charged with homicide if you chop somebody’s head off before they’re dead,” he said, adding: “The idea behind this [transplant] is to preserve you, but if the only way you could do it is to transform your body, you haven’t really saved yourself – you’ve become someone else.”

Category: Summer 2016

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