The neurosurgeon, Professor Sergio Canavero intends to attempt the first ever human head transplant in the UK.
He made the announcement while also revealing a virtual reality project that he hopes will be used to have his patient get ready for the experience of gaining a new body. Russian Valery Spiridinov - has already been chosen and the two hope to attach his head to a donor body next year.
‘Virtual reality training used before the head transplantation procedure to prevent the occurrence of unexpected psychological reactions and prepares the patient for the new transition.’
AdvertisementThe operation will involve freezing Mr Spiridinov's head and cutting it from his body. It would then be fused onto a donor body and the tubes and skin would be attached together.
He also chose to reveal the new virtual reality system in Glasgow, promising that it would be used to "prepare patients for life in a new body". The operation could lead to "unexpected psychological reactions" from the patient - with one expert saying the experience could be "worse than death" - and so the VR system is intended to avoid those.
Professor Canavero said: "This virtual reality system prepares the patient in the best possible way for a new world that he will be facing with his new body. A world in which he will be able to walk again."
In the system created by US firm Inventum Bioengineering Technologies, patients would take part in sessions for months before an operation.
Inventum chief executive Alexander Pavlovcik said: "In preparing the patient of Heaven (Head Anastomosis Venture) to transition into a new body, virtual reality training will be used before the surgical procedure to prevent the occurrence of unexpected psychological reactions. We are combining the latest advancements in virtual reality to develop the world's first protocol for preparing the patient for bodily freedom after the transplantation procedure."
Prospective patient Mr Spiridonov said: "Virtual reality simulations are extremely important as this kind of systems allow to get involved into action and learn fast and efficiently."
The procedure for cutting the spinal cord is said to be so delicate with the need to avoid nerves that a knife that can control cuts to a micrometre (one millionth of a metre) has been developed by Farid Amirouche at the University of Illinois.
Prof Canavero said, "Prof Amirouche has developed probably the sharpest and most precise blade in the world which will allow a clear cut of the spinal cord with a minimal impact on the nerves, a cutting system that is innovative and very inventive. It is another milestone on the journey to make the first human head transplant possible."