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
‘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.’
The 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
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."