23 December 2019 12:38
PanARMENIAN.Net - The first ever human head transplants could be achieved within the next decade, claims a former NHS neurosurgeon who believes he knows how the feat of moving a person's consciousness to another body could be made to work. Bruce Mathew, a former clinical lead for neurosurgery at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, was working on a science fiction novel with Institute of Futurology founder Michael Lee when he realised the potential key to making the outlandish surgery a success. He believes that surgeons would not only have to transplant a person's head, but place their entire spinal cord into another body. Until now, the few contentious scientists striving to make head transplants a reality have mainly focused on methods that sever the spinal cord – an idea that Mathew, who has performed more than 10,000 operations, describes as "utterly ridiculous". But the 63-year-old from Hull asserts that advancements in nerve surgery, robotics and stem cell transplants mean that it could be possible to reattach an entire spinal cord – and its corresponding head – to another body before 2030.
If you transplant the brain and keep the brain and spinal cord together it's actually not impossible," he told The Telegraph. The idea that you cut the split the spinal cord is utterly ridiculous. One of the more infamous scientists in the sparse head transplant field, Sergio Canavero, in 2017 claimed to have performed a successful transplant on a human corpse based on a method that severs the spinal cord at the base of the neck. Bruce Mathew, a former clinical lead for neurosurgery at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, believes robotics, stem cell transplants and nerve surgery will make it possible. Another scientist, Professor Sergio Canavero, is already working on the first head transplant – which would see a head severed at the spinal column attached to another body.
"If you transplant the brain and keep the brain and spinal cord together, it's actually not impossible," he told The Telegraph. The idea that you cut the split the spinal cord is utterly ridiculous." Yuck yuck. It's a comment that is a dig at fellow scientist, Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero, who earlier this year was critical of colleagues who "stuck to the view that a severed spinal cord cannot be mended in any way, a mantra uncritically repeated over and over," according to the South China Morning Post. Earlier this year, Canavero along with Chinese surgeon Ren Xiaoping claimed that they repaired fully severed spinal cords in dogs and monkeys, who were able to walk after reattachment surgery. This followed Canavero claiming 2015 to have performed a "successful" transplant on a corpse after severing the spinal cord.
He says technology advances mean transferring the head and consciousness from one person to a donor body will be possible. 2 Head transplants will happen by 2030, a top doctor claims Credit: Kobal Collection - Shutterstock Bruce Mathew, a former clinical lead for neurosurgery at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, made the realisation while working with author Michael J Lee on science fiction novel, Chrysalis. He told The Sunday Telegraph: "Initially our intention was just to brainstorm an idea and it seemed rather silly, but then I realised, it actually isn't. "If you transplant the brain and spinal cord together it's not impossible." Another medic, Prof Sergio Canavero, is also working on the first transplant but his method involves severing the spinal column, a concept Mr Mathew dismissed as "utterly ridiculous". 2 Prof Sergio Canavero is also working on a head transplant that involves severing the spinal cord Credit: EPA Mr Mathew says transplants on to robotic bodies would also one day be possible using his method. The previous clinical lead at Hull University Teaching Hospitals, Dr Bruce Mathew, said advances in robotics, stem cell transplants and nerve surgery could make it possible to transfer a brain and spinal cord between two bodies. One head transplant has already been carried out between two dead bodies, where an 18-hour operation saw the spine, nerves and blood vessels re-connected at Harbin Medical University, China, two years ago. Previous clinical lead for neurosurgery at Hull University Teaching Hospitals, Dr Bruce Mathew, said it may be possible to do a head transplant in ten years (stock image) Mr Mathew stumbled across the 'not impossible' theory while writing a science fiction novel called Chrysalis: A surgical sci-fi story about immortal potential with futurist author Michael J Lee. 'Initially our intention was just to brainstorm an idea and it seemed rather silly, but then I realised, it actually isn't,' he told The Telegraph. 'If you transplant the brain and keep the brain and spinal cord together, it's actually not impossible.' Describing the experiment, he said: 'You would take off the spinal column, so that you could drop in the whole brain and spinal cord and lumbar sacral into a new body. The operation could help people suffering with muscular dystrophy, amputees, or even bring individuals back from the dead. Dr Xiaoping Ren managed to transplant a head onto a dead monkey's body in 2017. 'The first human head transplant on human cadavers has been done,' he told The Telegraph. Russian computer scientist Valery Spiridonov, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, volunteered to become the first head transplant two years ago. Italian neurologist Dr Sergio Canavero, chief of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group and who works with Dr Ren, is attempting to pioneer an approach involving severing the brain from the spinal cord.