The medical world is full of wonders, what with the number of breakthroughs and advancements that are made each day in the field. People who were on the brink of death are brought back to life and hazardous diseases have medicines that are available and accessible to all.
But sometimes, experts can use these technologies and medical prowess to come up with some bizarre interventions. For instance, we are talking about Dr Sergio Canavero, who is planning the first head transplant that the world has ever seen. Not just that, he is preparing for his “Frankenstein” surgery by reanimating human corpses. You heard us!
This Italian neurosurgeon became popular after his confident claim some years back that he will be performing the world’s first head transplant soon. While many have reportedly criticised Dr Canavero on ethical grounds, others have doubted in the past, that given the technology, will the doctor be able to do the transplant surgery in the said time-frame.
But there are people who believe in his work. So much so, he even has Valery Spiridonov — a 30-year-old man from Russia volunteering for the head transplant, in spite of the unwillingness of his girlfriend. And for a Surgical Neurology International article, Dr Canavero and his colleagues in China and South Korea drew similarities of their experiment to this infamous story.
The surgery’s name has an interesting theory behind it. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a man named Victor Frankenstein creates a monster using body parts from the morgue using electricity.
Dr Canavero, who is also the director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, and his collaborators have framed plans to test if it is possible to connect the spinal cord of a head to another body. Further, they plan to examine whether such an experiment will stimulate the nervous system in fresh human corpses with electrical pulses.
The surgery aims to cut the spinal cord of the head and then repair it, after which they will use a magnetic or electrical stimulation to activate and ‘reanimate’ the nerves which could further lead to movements in the corpse. According to the Daily Mail, the doctor pointed to the period of 1800s, when similar experiments using the corpses of animals turned out to be successful.
The announcement has come right after an experiment the doctor and his colleagues conducted in which they successfully reconnected the spinal cord of an injured dog. A series of research papers published recently explained how the dog was able to walk and wag its tail in three weeks after he became paralysed from his neck down.
Dr Canavero claims the results of the experiment on the dog proved that the technique used, known as GEMINI spinal cord fusion, will also work in humans to fuse two ends of a spinal cord together.