Canavero and Spiridonov meet at the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons to discuss a possible head transplant. Canavero says that his contribution would solely be dealing with the spinal cord, and that reattaching Spiridonov’s spine would require building a nano-blade with the ability to cut through nerve fibers without hurting them. He would also cut a bit lower than needed on Spiridonov’s spinal cord and a bit higher on the transplant body before giving them a last-minute second cut, which he said would help minimize cells dying off from the severed ends. Polyethylene glycol is then used to join the ends together, adding electrical stimulation to encourage attachment.
Canavero confirms that he hopes to operate on his first patient, and said he will carry out the procedure in China if he is banned from doing so in the EU or former Soviet Union.
If Europe and Russia say “no”, the surgery will be done in China. I’m ready for that. I’ve been studying Chinese for a few years. You should understand that it’s not simply a medical procedure. This surgery has a political meaning. The Soviet Union was the first one to send Yuri Gagarin to space, America was the first on the Moon. The country that hosts head transplant surgery for the first time will become a leader like this.
On the procedure:
I chose Valery for two reasons. First, he’s brave enough and ready to go till the end.Second, his bravery is based on knowledge, he studied everything the scientists have discovered in the area. This way, I decided, he will be the first one to make history
Valery’s head will be cooled to 10-15 degrees Celsius. That is done in cases of surgery on deep areas of the brain. We will have an hour to ‘switch’ the head to a different body. You need a few minutes to join blood vessels. Valery’s head will be detached from his body and transferred to another one in a matter of seconds, and the brain’s blood flow will start in about 15 minutes. The surgery will take a lot of time, the joining process may take up to 18-24 hours. Doctors will be taking turns not to get tired.
On the costs:
Do you love football? I hate it. Nonetheless, you have slackers who meaninglessly stroll around the pitch and are paid $20-30 million a year. I need $15 million. It’s the price for happiness and health for a lot of people. But sponsors prefer spending money on healthy boneheads who can’t kick a ball.
Spiridonov, who suffers from Werdnig-Hoffman muscle wasting disease, announces that he will be Canavero’s first head transplant patient, possibly in 2016. He says he has talked with Canavero through Skype. The cost of the 36-hour operation, which can only be performed in the one of the world’s most advanced operating theaters, has been estimated at $10 million. He says he wants the chance of a new body before he dies.
My decision is final and I do not plan to change my mind…Am I afraid? Yes, of course I am. But it is not just very scary, but also very interesting. But you have to understand that I don’t really have many choices. If I don’t try this chance my fate will be very sad. With every year my state is getting worse. I can hardly control my body now. I need help every day, every minute. I am now 30 years old, although people rarely live to more than 20 with this disease. My muscles stopped any development in childhood. Because of this, they do not grow and the skeleton gets deformed. The back muscles cannot support the skeleton. I do understand the risks of such surgery. They are multiple. We can’t even imagine what exactly can go wrong. I’m afraid that I wouldn’t live long enough to see it happen to someone else.