A 5.6.16 Newsweek story says that Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canovery is set to perform (no fooling) a human head transplant procedure. The guy whose head will be attached to a new body and thereby gain a new lease on life is Valery Spiridonov, a 31-year-old Russian software development manager who’s suffering from Werdnig-Hoffman disease, a muscle-wasting disorder.
Will the operation succeed? Perhaps not but then the next neurosurgeon will try it, and then the next and the next. And then one day head transplants will become routine. And then we’ll have vanity head transplants — old people looking to acquire a great new body so they can start all over. The possibilities! My head is spinning.
The procedure, which may happen next year, is the first real-world attempt in this vein. No one is likely to ever graft two heads on a single body, but the fact is that medical technology has actually begun to catch up with The Thing With Two Heads, a 1972 AIP film in which Roosevelt Greer and Ray Milland shared the same body (i.e., Greer’s). I confess to having had a couple of nightmares in which my head was removed and then re-attached…horrible. Canovero’s head transplant will be performed as a two-step procedure — a head anastomosis venture followed by a subsequent spinal cord fusion. This not a put-on — it’s real.
Canovero has said that Spiridonov’s willingness to submit to an experimental body switch is roughly analogous to cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s decision to become the first human to rocket into orbital space in 1961.