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Head Transplants: The Future of Medicine or a Step Too Far?

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A U.S. startup has announced that it is developing technology to transplant a human head onto another person’s body. The company has also released a graphic video illustrating the surgical process.

A scene demonstrating a head transplant released by BrainBridge [Photo=BrainBridge YouTube Capture]

According to the New York Post, the U.S. neuroscience and biomedical engineering startup BrainBridge is developing the world’s first head transplant system and plans to perform the first surgery within eight years.

The company detailed a surgical procedure that would involve transplanting the head of a patient affected by disease or disability onto the body of a brain-dead donor. This process includes transferring the brain and spinal cord to give the recipient a healthy body while maintaining their original memories and consciousness.

They touted this as a groundbreaking treatment that could push the limits of current medical capabilities, suggesting that the surgery could significantly extend the recipient’s life beyond average life expectancy.

Moreover, they released a video outlining the surgical steps. It highlighted that the head donor and the body recipient must be cooled to minimize potential brain damage. An artificial intelligence (AI) system guides and controls the entire surgical process.

BrainBridge claims that this allows for accurate nerve and muscle connections. After surgery, the patient spends up to a month in the intensive care unit in a coma, checking the immune system and regaining the brain’s control over the body.

Scientist Hashem Al-Ghaili, who is leading this project, said, “Our technology promises to open doors to lifesaving treatments that were unimaginable just a few years ago.”

Many experts express skepticism toward the procedure, with Dr. Ahmad Al Khleifat, a neuroscientist from King’s College London, criticizing the operation for seriously oversimplifying the brain’s functions.

Hampshire-based NHS surgeon Dr. Karan Rangarajan said, “When surgeons connect nerves in any part of the body like an arm transplant, for example, we just don’t know if the nerves will normally work afterward. Even if everything gets connected, if any of those connections leak or get unplugged after surgery, that could mean instant death for the patient. Not to mention the need for lifelong medication to prevent transplant rejection.”

In addition to safety issues, ethical controversies are also expected to continue. In 2016, the Ethics and Law Committee of the European Association of Neurosurgical Societies declared that human head transplants are unethical.

inews24
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