Doctor Sergio Canavero of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group has outlined a medical procedure which he says will successfully connect a brain to a spinal chord – the major challenge for any such operation. “It is my contention that the technology only now exists for such linkage,” he writes in the Surgical Neurology International journal.
But how much would such a procedure cost? Dr Canavero says you would have to put aside some $15 million for the operation alone.
Dr Canavero says his procedure is derived from successful head transplants of animals from experiments dating back to the 1970s. The head of a rhesus monkey was transplanted to the body of another in 1970 in an experimental procedure.
The head was quickly cooled to about 12C and quickly transferred to a chilled new body.
Once the head was reconnected to the circulatory system, the body’s heart was restarted and work initiated to connect the nervous system.
Dr Canavero argues that a “clean cut” by an ultra-sharp cutting implement was the key to success as it would allow the severed nerve cells to fuse with each other.
Late last month, scientists at Case Western Reserve University proved they could now restore some neural connectivity in the spinal cords of rats.
Perhaps all those people who have had their heads cryogenically frozen weren’t out of their minds after all.