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Bio-ethicists have accused the noggin exchange surgeon of being reckless. Transplant surgeons say nobody has been able to repair a spinal cord that has been cut clean through.
But Canavero insists he has developed a way to coax axons and neurons to grow across the gap between the two severed spinal cords using a special glue-like substance developed by a B.C. researcher.
I understand humans love the gory side of the surgery, but this is a medical procedure for a medical condition for people who are suffering awfully, Canavero said. So, its not a joke.
Questions Involving The Proper Allocation Of Resources
There are other reasons to be worried about head transplants. In the United States, we are suffering from a severe shortage of donated organs. The average wait time for transplant for a kidney is five years, a liver is 11 months, a pancreas is two years. One cadaver can donate two kidneys, as well as a heart, a liver, a pancreas, and perhaps other organs. To use it instead for a single head transplant with a slim chance of success is unethical.
Canavero estimates the cost of the first head transplant at $100 million. How much good could be done with such funds, dedicated to treatments and transplants that we know are effective?
When and if it becomes possible to reattach a severed spinal cord, surely that revolutionary advance should be targeted first on the many thousands of people who suffer from paralysis as a result of a cord severed or damaged by injury.
There are also unresolved legal questions. Who is the hybrid person, legally speaking? Is it legally the head or the body that is, is it me or you? The body is more than 80 percent of our mass, so by that measure, it is majority me, and it is possible its handwriting looks more like the body donors than the head donor. And who are legally its children, or its spouse?
If, as seems likely, the surgery results in someone who is paralyzed or otherwise severely impaired, who will assume the cost and responsibility of their long-term care?
Removing A Healthy Head From A Body Without Hope
Were going to remove one head under deep hypothermia and reinstall it on a new body. Of course, we are talking about a head with a perfectly healthy brain, but with an alien body so a body without hope, Dr. Canavero told MNT.
Both the recipients head and donor body will be put into hypothermia mode for around 45 minutes in order to limit any neurological damage that may occur from oxygen deprivation.
The head will be removed from the donor body using an ultra-sharp blade in order to minimize spinal cord damage a process the Italian surgeon says is key for successful SCF.
Then comes the trickiest part: attaching the recipients head to the donor body, which involves the complex SCF process. In his original paper, Dr. Canavero explained that the chemicals polyethylene glycol or chitosan will be utilized to encourage the fusion, before the muscles and blood supply are sutured.
While many scientists have raised concerns about the feasibility of the SCF process, Dr. Canavero told MNT that he is not worried.
As far as SCF is concerned, with the data, were already there, he added. And what really accrued over the past 50 years, which has been lost incredibly up until now, will simply help us accelerate the process nothing more and nothing less.
After surgery, the recipient will be placed in a coma for 3-4 weeks. This is to ensure neck movement is avoided, allowing time for the new nerve connections to fuse together.
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Using Crispr To Edit Out Blindness
The team took a major step forward last month with a paper showing the successful transplant of a rats eye into another rat, including joining the optic nerves. The organ was healthy and alive up to two years later. The next stage, with the DoD funding, is to regenerate the nerves to actually restore sight in rodents, primates, and, eventually, people.
The development of the rat model, by Kia, is a huge advancement in being able to conduct the complex science needed to successfully transplant a whole eye, said Rob Nickells, a collaborator with Washington who is a professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at University of Wisconsin. I would confidently say that given success of the questions, she will be the first surgeon to accomplish this feat.
Predicting Stroke And Other Risks
Although CABG surgery seems not to be the cause of cognitive decline in cardiac patients, extra care may be necessary in patients who are at risk for stroke and other problems. Stroke occurs when an area of the brain does not get enough blood. Blood supplies oxygen, and the brain needs oxygen to function. Strokes can be caused by either a hemorrhage in the brain or the blockage of a brain blood vessel. Think of the analogy of a sprinkler system on a lawn: if one of the pipes in the system becomes clogged, that area of the lawn does not get water and eventually dries up and dies. A similar process occurs in the brain if a blood vessel becomes clogged and blood flow to a region of the brain is restricted.
Why are strokes associated with CABG and other forms of heart surgery? The most likely explanation is that during surgery, small bits of material, usually blood clots or bits of tissue associated with arteriosclerosis , break off and are carried through the bloodstream to the brain. There, they lodge inside blood vessels and eventually block blood flow to the brain. Stroke can also occur when blood pressure falls too low to pump enough blood to the brain. For these reasons, blood pressure is carefully monitored during surgery. In most people who suffer a stroke as a result of heart surgery, bits of material and low blood pressure seem to be working together to cause damage.
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Two Surgeons In China Developing A Method To Transplant A Human Head
- Italian scientist Sergio Canavero and Chinese surgeon Xiaoping Ren are developing a plan to transplant a human head right down to neck bolts and electricity.
- Their focus is to help patients with spinal cord injuries and paralysis.
- The surgeons have already performed the procedure on mice, rats and a dog, all of which survived the surgery and even regained some motor function.
- Although the scientific and medical advancements necessary for human head transplantation are rapidly approaching plausibility, major ethical and moral hurdles remain.
A jolt of electricity is delivered to a body with bolts attaching its head to its neck. Its a scene straight out of a horror movie, but it is eerily close to Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero and Chinese surgeon Xiaoping Rens plan to transplant a human head down to the neck bolts and electricity.
Canavero and Ren recently performed a trial run on two cadavers, prompting outrage from the medical community, which has declared human head transplantation fake news. An examination by a team of independent scientists published this month, however, suggests that, while fantastical seeming, the scientific and medical advancements necessary for human head transplantation are rapidly approaching plausibility. Nevertheless, major ethical and moral hurdles remain.
Still, surgical, immunological, psychological and ethical hurdles remain.
Why Can’t We Have A Brain Transplant
With current science, we can transplant many other organs such as the pancreas, intestines, thymus, . and among the organs, the kidneys, liver and heart are normally transplanted organs. most often. Even scientists are studying how to replace human organs with 3D models. But there’s still one thing that can’t be implanted, today let’s find out why we can’t transplant brain?
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Potential Side Effects That Can Affect Personality After Surgery
Loss of memory
Attenuated thinking and attention span, exhaustion and anxiety. Other biologic therapies have reported changes such as slow memory decline, reduced motor skills, reasoning ability, and mood disturbances.
Dexamethasone given for edema control makes the patient feel restless and depressed.
Drug interactions such as those between anti-epileptic and chemotherapy drugs cause confusion, speech slurring, impairments in gait and excessive drowsiness.
Lack of proper sleep, dispiritedness and uncontrolled aggression is sometimes observed. Modifications of the dose can effectively control such side effects.
These are changes in personality that are not related to medicine and occur from the time the patient faces the confirmation of a tumor in the brain. Emotions go haywire and can result in extreme anger, weeping for hours, laughing at things that are not funny and extensive depression.
This is related to disruptions in the activity of the brain. Approximately 90% of brain tumor patients exhibit signs that are consistent with depression, especially post-surgery.
You may feel frustrated, sad, alone, along with feelings of self worthlessness. Many lose interest in their usual activities as well as hobbies, feel miserable and become socially isolated.
The same occurs with the number of people he/she sees once out. This is probably caused by overstimulation.
Who Would The Person That Emerges From Such A Surgery Really Be
Some say the odds of success are so low that an attempt at a head transplant would amount to murder. But even if it were feasible, even if we could put a head and a body together and have a living human being at the end, it is only the beginning of the ethical questions about the procedure and the hybrid life created.
If we transplanted your head onto my body, who would that resulting creature be? In the West, we tend to think that what is most essentially you your thoughts, memories, emotions reside entirely in your brain. Since the resulting hybrid has your brain, we take for granted that this person will be you.
But there are many reasons to worry that such a conclusion is premature.
First, our brains are constantly monitoring, responding to, and adapting to our bodies. An entirely new body would cause the brain to engage in a massive reorientation to all its new inputs, which could, over time, alter the fundamental nature and connective pathways of the brain .
Your brain would not be the same brain as it was when it was still attached to your body. We dont know exactly how that would change you, your sense of self, your memories, your connection to the world only that it will.
Nor do we fully understand the extent of the role of the ENS or microbiome in what makes us who we are. It may turn out that the head-body transplant may end up with as much of the personality of the body donor as the head donor.
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A Fully Functioning Healthy Brain Is An Inadequate Explanation For Fundamental Aspects Of Human Existence Including Self
And now there is serious talk of doing a head transplant on a human being.
Valery Spiridonov has a rare genetic disease in which his motor neurons are destroyed and the muscles of his body are wasting away. He cant walk and can do little more than feed himself, type and move his wheelchair with a joystick. Some physicians are surprised he is still alive.
Spiridonov, a tech geek, runs his own educational-software company and has a deep faith in technologys ability to save his life. He wants to be the first person to undergo a head transplant.
Physicians would wait until the body of a brain-dead human being consented to a full-body donation for this purpose. They would then cool Spiridonovs brain in order to lessen neural damage, sever both spinal cords, attach Spiridonovs spinal cord to Toms spinal cord and use a drug to fuse the spinal cords.
But even if the surgery were successful, it would be a mistake to describe this procedure as a brain transplant for Spiridonov. Heres why.
First, we are not our brains. The move to the head is a cultural product of the Western Enlightenment, focused on rationality and calculation as the primary aspect of what makes us human.
Neuroscientists and philosophers of mind, for instance, have not been able to locate human consciousness and self-awareness in the brain.
The fact that these children are conscious means that consciousness does not require higher brain function.
Transplant An Organ Why Not An Entire Body
On Dec. 23, 1954, a surgical team led by Joseph E. Murray of the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston performed the first successful human organ transplant in history. The operation in which a kidney was removed from the body of a healthy male patient and implanted into that of his ailing twin brother was a milestone in the annals of modern medicine, an achievement that at the time seemed like something out of science fiction. But one of the young doctors witnessing the operation that day harbored dreams of an even more ambitious coup than Murrays. Robert J. White, a 28-year-old resident in general surgery at Brigham, didnt see why he should be content replacing individual organs when he could theoretically replace all the organs at once by transplanting a sick patients head onto an entirely different body. This notion, hardly less bizarre-sounding today than it was in 1954, would become the goal White aspired to for the rest of his life.
Even more intriguing, however, are the philosophical issues raised by Whites work, and Schillaces book is most fascinating when discussing how he did and didnt address them. Moving a brain and the consciousness that goes with it from one body to another brings up fundamental questions about our notions of the self, the definition of death and even the ethics of immortality. Could it really be okay, as Schillace pithily asks, to take off someones head?
Mr. Humble and Dr. Butcher
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Autologous Stem Cell Transplant
Autologous stem cell transplantation is injection of your own stem cells into your blood or into your cerebrospinal fluid . Your CSF is the fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord.
Autologous transplant is often considered advantageous because your own cells are more readily available than donor cells, and because your immune system is unlikely to reject your own cells.
A Neighborhood In My Skulll
But one issue arises that cannot be resolved by clarification of language: What about transplantation of parts of my brain? What would be the metaphysical status of a person with hybrid brains a lobe of my brain connected to a lobe of my neighbors brain? What if tiny bits of the brains from all the people in my neighborhood were transplanted into my brain? Would I incorporate my neighbors? Would they incorporate me? Or both or neither? Would there be a neighborhood in my skull?
What would become of my soul and the souls of my neighbors if our brains were blended like this? I think there is an answer, and it has profound implications.
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These Successful Procedures Are Anything But
Many of Canaveros previous appearances in the media have been accompanied by claims of successfulhead transplant procedures. But, how are we defining successful here? Canaveros definition seems to be extremely generous at best.
For instance, he recently claimed to have successfully performed a head transplant on a monkey. But did he? While the monkey head did apparently survive the procedure, it never regained consciousness, it was only kept alive for 20 hours for ethical reasons and there was no attempt made at connecting the spinal cord, so even if the monkey had survived long-term it would have been paralysed for life. So, it was a successful procedure, if you consider paralysis, lack of consciousness and a lifespan of less than a day as indicators of success.
There was also his successful rat head transplant, which involved grafting a severed rat head onto a different rat, a living one that still had its head. Exactly how this counts as a transplant is anyones guess. Its adding a appendage onto an otherwise healthy subject.
An Intelligent Design Perspective
Im going out on a limb here, but I believe the intelligent design perspective may offer insight into the peculiar inability of central nervous system tissue to regenerate. We tend to think of the design perspective in terms of functional ability e.g., the ability of DNA to code for genes or the ability of ribosomes to manufacture proteins, etc., as evidence for design.
But we should also consider biological inabilities as possible manifestations of design. Living things are full of purposes hearts that pump blood, lungs that exchange gases, kidneys that excrete urine and purposes, of course, always imply underlying intelligence and design. However, purpose can constrain as well.
Read the rest at Mind Matters, published by Discovery Institutes Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence.
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A Humoral Signal Controlling Daily Locomotion
Handler and Konopka performed brain transplants similar to those performed by Truman and Riddiford , but in the much smaller Drosophila to examine the possible influence of brain secretions on rhythmic activity. They found that in a small number of instances, brains from perS animals could restore rhythmicity when transplanted into animals that were otherwise arrhythmic due to their carrying a per01 allele. The implicated molecule remain unidentified. In summary, there is evidence of diffusible signals normally influencing rhythmic locomotor and eclosion behaviors in insects.
Ulrich L.M. Eisel, … Jakob Korf, in, 2010