By Kaitlyn Schaeffer
Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero has big plans for the next few years: he’s preparing to transplant a head onto a donor body.
This past Friday, at a conference in Annapolis, Dr. Canavero announced to a crowd of over 100 doctors, researchers, and reporters that he believes he can accomplish this feat in two years time. He will need a team of 150 surgeons to perform the 36-hour operation. He will also need a donor body, and a patient to volunteer to undergo the transplant.
Valery Spiridonov, a 30-year-old Russian male with Werdnig-Hoffmann disease, a degenerative muscular condition, accompanied Dr. Canavero to the conference to announce his intention to be that lucky patient.
In order for the transplant to be successful, Dr. Canavero will have to successfully fuse the spinal cord from the donor body to Mr. Spiridonov’s head. This will be very difficult; Dr. Canavero will have to sever the spinal cord fibers that connect the head to the rest of the body with a very sharp knife. He also plans to make use of a chemical, polyethylene glycol, and electrodes to encourage the severed ends to form new connections.
Dr. Canavero hopes that such a procedure will result in a cure for people who have certain degenerative diseases.
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