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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

My Brain, Your Body, And Our Life!

Cornea (1905), Kidney (1950), Pancreas (1966), Heart/Liver (1967) and Lung (1981)... What followed was even more incredible: Hand (1998), Penis (2006), Arms (2008), Legs (2011) and Face (2013). Logically, Head should come the next. And, it seems so.

Dr. Sergio Canavero, neurosurgeon from Italy confirms that possibility in a couple of years. Calling it a 'Head Transplant' maybe inaccurate because what the recipient gets is a body, not a head! The misnomer aside, promise of an extended life to someone with a healthy brain, but a diseased or dysfunctional body captures our attention.

The procedure involves surgical severing of the heads of both the donor and recipient to begin with. The recipient's head will then be aligned with the donor's body and the circulating system between the two connected to ensure blood to the brain. A robot assisted microsurgery that follows will render the more complex job of joining the spinal cords and nerves.

Though, still a theory, 'mating' one person's head with the body of another seems bizarre. How will the recipient's brain react to the sudden loss of its body, and adjust to the demands of another? Dr. Canavero himself says, the 'chimera' created will carry the mind of the recipient, while children born subsequently will inherit genetic traits of the donor!

Confused? This anecdote, if true, may have an answer. While experimenting with transplants in 1970, well-known neurosurgeon Dr Robert White severed the head of a Rhesus monkey and attached it to the body of another. When the monkey woke up and noticed its new body, it glared, snarled, and snapped at Dr. White. Was the monkey expressing horror, dread, or helplessness?

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world;
the unreasonable man tries to adapt the world to himself...."
                                                                                                                                     ~ George B Shaw

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